Small Wars Journal

Enhancing North American Security through Military to Military Relationships

US Army North (ARNORTH) has played an instrumental role over the past several years in building rapport and establishing new engagement opportunities with the Mexican Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA).  Over the past four years, ARNORTH has greatly increased the frequency of these engagements, from only a handful of training events in 2008, to nearly one hundred in FY2012, with more planned for FY13.  (The chart below illustrates this dramatic increase)  These engagements are facilitated by the Mexico branch of ARNORTH’s Security Cooperation Division, composed of an engagement section and training branch, has focused its efforts at conducting senior leader engagements and Subject Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEE)/Mobile Training Team (MTT) activities respectively. 

ARNORTH Partnered Training Events With SEDENA

ARNORTH’s senior leader engagements are aimed at the strategic level and are designed to strengthen ties between high-ranking U.S. and Mexican leadership to create opportunities for institutional development, and to identify areas in which the U.S. may assist with building partner capacities with Mexico.  Traditional engagement activities include the annual Fifth Army Inter-American Relations Program (FIARP) and the Border Commanders Conference (BCC). 

FIARP, established after World War II, is a week-long program which hosts Mexican senior leaders at US Army installations. FIARP builds rapport, understanding and confidence with senior Mexican officers and their spouses while sharing information about the U.S. Army and the American way of life within a professional, social and cultural context.

The BCC, established in 1987, has served as a forum to improve mutual cooperation and understanding between both armies by bringing together leaders of the Mexican and U.S. military in an annual conference focused on border security issues.  This is one of many ARNORTH engagements designed to exchange information with our Mexican partners as we both work to combat Transnational Organized Crime (TOC).  The BCC has the added benefit of strengthening interoperability to better respond to disasters along the border.

In the past year, ARNORTH’s engagement branch has instituted a number of different exchange programs, including:

  • A 3-star Executive Seminar, consisting of twelve US and twelve Mexican lieutenant general-ranked officers
  • An ARNORTH-sponsored visit to Afghanistan, which introduced five Mexican doctors to medical evacuation, and treatment procedures in a combat environment
  • A visit to TRADOC, consisting of senior Mexican training and doctrine officers
  • Border Regional Commander’s Meeting

In addition to these new programs and projects, ARNORTH sponsored twenty Border Contact Meetings (BCMs), which brought together Mexican military security forces along the border and US law enforcement agencies.  For the first time ever, in 2012, ARNORTH exchanged liaison officers with SEDENA during a major national defense exercise, ARDENT SENTRY.  In the next fiscal year, ARNORTH will develop a guest speaker exchange program that which will allow US and Mexican generals to speak at each other’s military institutions and schools.  ARNORTH will also explore opportunities to introduce Army Corps of Engineer resources as a security cooperation capacity, and facilitate a visit by Mexican logistics officers to  Army Material Command.

Tactical-level military-to-military relationships have grown significantly over the past few years, with training programs focusing accelerated mission planning, tactical intelligence operation training, and Counter-Improvised Explosive Device training.  Most of these training events are focused on training Mexican trainers, who can spread this expertise throughout the institution. 

These events strengthen both of our institutions, and are helping the US military and SEDENA advance towards better interoperability, as we both work together to address mutual security concerns. 

Categories: El Centro