By John Lindsay-Poland, American Friends Service Committee ¨Demilitarize!¨
The United States gave military training to more than 5,700 Mexican police and soldiers in some 45 U.S. locations and at least ten sites in Mexico during the last two years, according to data published by the State Department.
The training ranged from jungle riverine exercises at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and desert operations at Fort Bliss in El Paso, to helicopter pilot training at Fort Rucker, Alabama and maritime policing in the US Coast Guard’s training center in Yorktown, Virginia. Some U.S. training sites train very few foreign students, often just one or two per country.
Most U.S. military training for Mexican armed forces occurred in Mexico, not the United States. More than half occurred in three locations: Campeche on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico City, and the southern border city of Tapachula.
U.S. Marines gave pre-deployment training to most of more than 900 Mexican Marines in Tapachula in 2014. Marines have been training Mexican soldiers in both Mexico and U.S. sites since October 2012, according to Marine Corp Times. U.S. Border Patrol trainers also instructed 30 Mexican naval forces on doing vehicle stops at a course in Tapachula.
At San Miguel de Jagueyos, 55 miles north of Mexico City, US Army North instructors trained more than 300 Mexican soldiers in rifle marksmanship, urban operations, and combat casualty care in the Spring and Summer of 2014. US Army North reports it is creating a long-term strategy for U.S.-Mexico military activities, which it calls Theater Security Cooperation. The military training base in San Miguel Jagueyos was the site of executions by the Army in 1988, according to testimony by a deserter who requested asylum in Canada.
The map below shows mostly but not entirely military training. Congress requires U.S. agencies to report annually on military training of foreign forces, but there has been no legal requirement to report on foreign police training. But in Mexico as in Central America, police and other law enforcement agencies have been primarily responsible for operations against drugs and immigration that are Washington’s highest priority.
Click here to see the map of training sites. Click on an icon in the map to get more information on U.S. military training at that site.
The Mexican presidency recently reported that the United States supported the training of 19,473 agents of Mexico’s immigration enforcement agency (National Migration Institute, or INM) in interrogation of terrorism suspects, relations with the public, interview techniques, and other subjects. But since the INM has only 5,400 agents, the number likely includes members of other Mexican police forces as well as multiple courses for some agents. Federal Police agents frequently work together with INM.
Not included in this data and map is training of Mexican forces conducted by Colombian trainers, even when this was financed by the United States. According to the Colombian government, the country's national police trained 10,310 Mexican police between 2009 and 2013. Mexico has been the largest recipient of Colombian military and police training, but this is largely an agreement between Colombia and Mexico.
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