Add Mexico to the list of world trouble spots keeping Pentagon planners up at night.
The U.S. Marine Corps’ Strategic Vision Group has placed Mexico on its list of places to watch because of potential instability. The Marines are concerned that the mix of drug gang violence, economic stress, a burgeoning population – 110 million and growing – and the proximity of the U.S. border could lead to a wave of Mexican migration around 2014-2025.
National Guard troops monitor the Mexican border in Arizona. (DoD Photo: USAF Tech Sgt. Brian Christiansen)
But the Marines aren’t the only ones keeping a close eye on events south of the border. The CIA, Homeland Security and State departments all say Mexico’s troubles are a growing concern.
Joint Forces Command says “an unstable Mexico could represent a homeland security problem of immense proportions to the United States.”
The Senate Homeland Security Committee has scheduled a March 25 hearing to assess the rising level of violence in northern Mexico and its implications for increased terrorist activity.
After a fact-finding visit with Mexican officials in December, retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, wrote a memo warning President Barack Obama that a “failure by the Mexican political system to curtail lawlessness and violence could result [in] a surge of millions of refugees crossing the U.S. border …”
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the government is drawing up plans to deal with the eventuality that drug violence spills across the border. The government is also trying to stem the flow of weapons south from the U.S. fueling the carnage.
The State Department’s annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, issued last week, notes “drug-related violence continues to rise in Mexico, from approximately 2,700 deaths in 2007 to over 5,000 in 2008.” The department has issued a travel alert for U.S. citizens, warning that robberies, homicides, petty theft, and carjackings have increased all over Mexico with surges in Tijuana and northern Baja California.
CIA Director Leon Panetta says Mexico is getting “a lot of attention” from the agency.
Appearing yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Defense Secretary Roberts Gates says the U.S. military is starting to assist Mexico’s fight against the narcotics cartels with training, intelligence and surveillance capabilities.
(Customs and Border Protection photo, James Tourlette)