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Military of Mexico

The Mexican military forces are composed of the Mexican Army (which includes the Mexican Air Force as a subordinate entity) and the Mexican Navy (including marines).

Organization

The Army

There are three main components of the Army: a national headquarters, territorial commands, and independent units. The Minister of Defense commands the Army by means of a very centralized system and a large number of general officers. The Army uses a modified continental staff system in its headquarters. The Army is the largest branch of Mexico's armed services.

Presently, there are 12 "Military Regions", which are further broken down into 44 subordinate "Military Zones." In both cases, a numbering system is used for designation. There is no set number of zones within a region, and these can therefore be tailored to meet operational needs, with a corresponding increase or decrease in troop strength. Today the army consists of 230,000 combat-ready deployable ground troops.

The Air Force

As mentioned earlier, the Air Force national headquarters is embedded in the Army headquarters in Mexico City. It also follows the continental staff system, with the usual A1, A2, A3, and A4 sections. The tactical forces form what is loosely called an Air Division, but it is dispersed in four regions—Northeast, Northwest, Central, and Southern. The Air Force maintains a total of 18 air bases, and has the additional capability of opening temporary forward operating bases in austere conditions for some of the rotary wing and light fixed-wing assets.

The Navy

The Ministry of the Navy, the Navy's national headquarters, is located in Mexico City, and is smaller than the Army's headquarters. The "Junta (or Council) of Admirals" plays a unique consultative and advisory role within the headquarters, an indication of the institutional importance placed on seniority and "year groups" that go back to the admirals’ days as cadets in the naval college. They are a very tightly knit group, and great importance is placed on consultation among the factions within these year groups. The Navy's operational forces are organized as two independent groups: the Gulf (East) Force and the Pacific (West) Force. Each group has its own headquarters, a destroyer group, an auxiliary vessel group, a Marine Infantry Group, and a Special Forces group. The Gulf and Pacific Forces are not mirror images of each other, as independence of organization is permitted. Both are subdivided into regions, with Regions 1, 3, and 5 on the Gulf, and 2, 4, and 6 on the Pacific. Each region is further divided into sectors and zones, so a proliferation of headquarters and senior officers exists. The Navy also has an air arm with troop transport, reconnaissance, and surveillance aircraft. Recently the Navy has ceded most of its river responsibilities (formally handled by the Marines) to the Army, and has reduced the size of the Marine force, putting them back aboard ships where they play a vital role in drug interdiction and boarding of suspect vessels in territorial waters. The Navy maintains significant infrastructure, including naval dockyards that have the capability of building ships, such as the Holzinger class offshore patrol vessel. These dockyards have a significant employment and economic impact in the country.

Independent forces

Several other military organizations exist that are independent of the Army and Navy command structures.

Chief among the independent troops is an Army Corps consisting of two mechanized infantry brigades located in Mexico City, with a full complement of combat and support troops. In addition, there are two brigades of the Corps of Military Police, Special Forces units, Presidential Guards (another motorized brigade), and a parachute brigade.

All these independent troops are located in Mexico City where they act as a ready reserve and as centers of excellence.

At one time, a special "Rural Defense Corps" (or "Rurales") played a role similar to a traditional popular militia, but the role of the "Rurales" has been greatly diminished in recent years.

Leadership

Officially, as there is no Minister of Defense, the Mexican military's two components are not under command of a single, unified forces commander at any level below the President, who has a military role under the national constitution: Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (Comandante Supremo De Las Fuerzas Armadas). According with the Constitution of Mexico the President is the only Army five-star general. (This is comparable to most other countries with a presidential system of government, such as the United States.) Instead, a Minister, who is a serving officer — an Army four-star general or a Navy admiral — heads each component. Each minister serves in a dual capacity: as a full cabinet member reporting to the President, and as the operational commander of his branch, but because of politics and rank, the navy is subordinate to the army.

Moreover, the Air Force commander and his staff are embedded to Army headquarters; an Air Force officer never has risen to the hierarchy's most trusted, senior positions. This subordination has allowed the Army to identify its organization as the "Secretariat of National Defense" (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional — SEDENA), resultantly, (to the Navy's annoyance) the current army chief, General Guillermo Galván Galván (and his predecessors) holds the nominal title of "Minister of Defense".

The President picks the ministers who do not necessarily have to serve as such for his entire presidential term (sexenio, sexenium, six-year term). During the PRI's single-party rule, ministerial selection was a strict, pro-forma exercise by seniority. However, both Presidents Ernesto Zedillo (1994–2000) and Vicente Fox (2000-2006) strayed from precedent and reached down to the junior levels to select "more progressive" officers to lead the forces.

The Army and the Navy are regionally organized, with central, national headquarters in Mexico City and subordinate, regional headquarters. Historically, this has proved effective, as the military's main deployments have been domestic. Troops are stationed throughout the country to serve as continuing presence of authority and to allow for immediate critical response. Dispersion by regional military zones has facilitated local recruitment of non-commissioned officers (army sergeants, navy petty officers) and enlisted men and women, allowing them to be stationed near family during their military service, an important cultural consideration. On the other hand, mobility is expected of commissioned officers, moving from assignment to assignment and to the military center, in Mexico City, giving them much experience, and, historically, preventing any senior officer from remaining too long in one place and developing a personal power base through local allegiances, and so becoming too powerful as a war lord.

Size and Scope

Per a defense ministry report by General Guillermo Galván Galván, the army has 181,356 active duty soldiers, about 0.16 per cent of the population [1]. Its 1989 budget was 0.7 per cent of the Gross Internal Product (GNP). In 1999, Mexico's military budget increased to 0.9 per cent of the GDP, to US$4.0 billion. Since the year 2000, however, with the economic boost that the country has experienced, the defense budget was decreased to 0.5 per cent of the GDP, and currently has annual expenditures of US$10.062 billion (2007). Since President Calderón assumed office (December 2006), he has submitted legislation increasing the budget, in order to fight the drug war against the narcotics cartels, and narcotic drug trafficking in general, that have extended their violent business to each corner of the country.

According to the CIA World Fact book, Mexico's available military manpower is 20,000,000 (males age 18-49, 2005 est.), with 19,058,337 males fit for military service, and 1,063,233 males annually reaching military service age. Since 2000, women have been allowed to volunteer for military service. Currently, Mexico's armed forces number some 620,400, including the reserves. Mexico's military is in two branches, the National Defense Secretariat (Army and Air Force) and the Navy Secretariat (Navy, Naval Air Force, Marines).

Mission

The Mexican Army works around three preparedness missions, or plans:

DN1: Preparation of the military forces to repel external aggressions. No military armed force can leave Mexican territory without a declaration of war, and approval of the Congress. The last time this was invoked was in 1942, to send an expeditionary force to the Philippines, after war was declared against Germany and Japan, following the sinking of two Mexican ships by U-boats. In 1990 President Carlos Salinas de Gortari asked the permission of the Congress to send troops to the Gulf War, but it was refused, since there was no declaration of war against Iraq.

DN2: Preparation of the military forces to protect the internal security of the country. This would include police actions against guerrilla forces, counter-drug operations, and, originally, political control. Up to 1970, the Mexican Army had been used as a repressive force to maintain the virtual dictatorship of the single-party PRI government. The most controversial use of the military had been called "The dirty war" in the 1960s, which included the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre of students and unsuspecting bystanders. After 1980 these types of operations had nearly completely ceased (see EZLN).

DN3: (Defense against natural disasters) The Army should always be ready to help the civil population in case of disaster. This includes preventive measures. For example, between August and November, military forces are sent to Mexican coastal areas to aid the public in the event of hurricanes or floods. For the Mexican people, the DN3 plan is the most important peacetime operation of the Army. The Army provides food, shelter, medicine, and medical services to the people that need them. This also includes reconstruction of roads and communication services. Because calling the implementation DN3 plan is an acceptance of severe problems, the DN3 plan was not invoked in the 1985 Mexico City earthquake that left large areas of Mexico City in ruins, since the authorities did not want to recognize there was an emergency in the capital, while the army was called to the city, it was just a peacekeeping force. This later became a severe questioning on the government. Also, the Mexican Army provided aid to the US when the hurricanes Katrina and Rita occurred to help the people in need.

Conscription

The military draft lottery

Each year, the SEDENA (Secretary of National Defense) requires every eighteen-year-old man and every man who will be that age within twelve (12) months of the draft date of a designated Clase de Servicio Militar Nacional (National Military Service Class) to report to his municipality's designated military recruitment center. There, he will register to the conscription program with his birth certificate and standard-size, head-and-shoulders portrait photographs in order to be issued a precartilla (pre-military identity card) with a serial number, photograph, right thumb fingerprint, weapons licence number, and personal data (address, current schooling level, etc.) that finally, after the draft lottery and a year of service, earns him full conscript status and a Cartilla de Servicio Militar Nacional (Military National Service Identity Card), informally, cartilla (military I.D. card) attesting to his having fulfilled his civic obligation in duty to the nation. The SEDENA's lottery determines who will be exempted from or drafted for military duty — either with the army or with the navy.

Formerly, the military service lottery required the presence of every man of a National Military Service Class; he stood at attention, awaiting either conscription or exemption; each man's name was called aloud and a child drew a colored ball from a bag — the color determined the man's conscription to or exemption from military service. Today, military service status selection is computerized, but the results are announced as before: White ball (Army service), Black ball (exemption), and Blue ball (Navy-Marines service). Currently, a seal is stamped to the "precartilla" identifying the bearer's military draft lottery status.

The Cartilla

The drafted men attend and participate in week-end military training comprising basic military training with weapons, and combat tactics, yet it emphasises education, history, physical fitness, and military discipline for one complete year. Afterwards, the precartilla (pre-military identity card) is returned to the conscript with an added page certifying his status as having fulfilled his national military service and identifies the military branch, the unit, rank, etc. The document then acquires full status as the Cartilla del Servicio Militar Nacional (Military National Service Identity Card), informally Cartilla; this status is recorded to the National Defense Secretariat files.

This document (Military National Service Identity Card) is an important form of Mexican national identification, and its existence is almost always requested by private and public employers, however, this identity document has ceased being required for obtaining a passport for international travel.

Officers

Officer candidates for the three services are trained in military colleges; Mexico City for the Army, Guadalajara, Jalisco, for the Air Force, and Veracruz, Veracruz, for the Navy. Generally, officer candidates are from society's lower and middle classes, therefore a military commission is a means of upward social mobility for the poor, yet society respects military officers (despite criticism of corruption and ineptitude).

The military colleges are not universities, yet provide significant technical training applicable to civil employment after military service. They emphasise military ethics (honour, duty, country), history, discipline, physical fitness, and the perpetuation of the military as a societal institution. The armed forces provide university-level education through the War College (Colegio de Guerra) in Mexico City, to which officers must attend and earn a Diplomado del Estado Mayor (DEM) degree to qualify for promotion to general officer or admiral rank.

Career soldiers

Legally, every Mexican man is obligated to a year of servicio militar nacional — SMN (national military service — NMS), generally only a few hours of drill on weekends, not true military training. Most conscripts will have received only one marksmanship session at a rifle range by the time they have completed their NMS obligation. The 1986 National Military Service class was the last class oriented to social service purposes. The NMS was restructured, and conscripts now receive true military training and education. The 1987 class was the first to receive proper marksmanship training. The men of an NMS class who remain after their obligation, are recruited volunteers who have chosen to be career soldiers.

Limitations upon the military

Article 129 of the 1917 Political Constitution of the Mexican United States establishes that: No military authority may, in time of peace, perform any functions other than those that are directly connected with military affairs, but the Army's temporary replacement of civil police forces, in specific cases, before the creation of the Federal Preventative Police has been much debated in the Congress and in the mass communications media; (cf. U.S. Posse Comitatus Act)

Like-wise, per Article 16: No member of the army shall, in time of peace, be quartered in private dwellings without the consent of the owner, nor may he impose any obligation whatsoever. In time of war the military may demand lodging, equipment, provisions, and other assistance, in the manner laid down in the respective martial law; (cf. Third Amendment to the United States Constitution)

Military Law

Article 13 of the Mexican Constitution specifically provides for military jurisdiction over all military crime and indiscipline; military tribunals execute jurisdiction over military personnel, per the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Regarding military personnel labour conditions, discipline, and the chain of command as fundamental to the military, Article 123-B establishes: Military and naval personnel and members of the public security corps, and personnel of the foreign service, shall be governed by their own laws. this is correct

Public knowledge of the military's activities

As the President of Mexico is Commander in Chief of the armed forces, the chain of command and military discipline are subordinated to him. The military obey him and maintain low public profiles in politico-military debate; they serve, they do not rule.

In recent decades, the mass communication media (television and print) were restricted in their coverage of the military's ranks and their activities. Only in the 1990s have Mexicans become publicly aware of the activities of its army, navy, air force, and marines. Since 1995, they are under much domestic and international public scrutiny, given the challenges inherent to greater national political openness, transparent public fiscal accountability, and results from missions pursued.

The current defense ministers, General Gerardo Clemente Vega and Admiral Peyrot, are considered progressive and academic in nature and background, though they remain in the monolithic image of the Mexican military man. The Mexican public have little insight to internal debate and dialogue with national military institutions; in public relations terms, both the Army and the Navy continue being reactive rather than proactive.

Estado Mayor Presidencial

There is a specific element of the Mexican Army which takes care of the President, a special group known as the Estado Mayor Presidencial (equivalent to the American Secret Service). Every member of this division is an expert marksman and has tough training for the protection of the President.

Activities outside Mexico

United Nations peacekeeping

As of 2005, intervention in UN peacekeeping operations is being discussed, but with the current political composition of the Congress, it is unlikely to be approved, as according to the Mexican Constitution, no military armed force can leave Mexican territory without a declaration of war.

Natural disaster relief

The Mexican army has traveled mainly to Central American countries to aid in disaster relief, and, most recently, to Indonesia after the tsunami disaster; only military support personnel, not combat forces. This includes the relief efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. This was the first time the Mexican Army entered United States territory since the Mexican-American war and the first time the United States had allowed a foreign military force on its soil. Mexican relief efforts were concentrated in Texas and New Orleans.

Equipment

Infantry light weapons

The Mexican Army makes up about three-quarters of the total military in manpower terms. Army soldiers are armed with license-made Heckler and Koch G3 rifles, currently being replaced by Mexican made FX-05 assault rifle.

Weapons of the Mexican army

FX-05 Mexican made assault rifle 5.56x45mm NATO round

Heckler & Koch G3 7.62 assault rifle, made under Heckler & Koch licence

HK21E 7.62 machine gun. Made under license from Heckler & Koch

Heckler & Koch MP5 9x19mm Sub-macine gun.

Heckler & Koch UMP 45 ACP (11.43x23mm) Sub-machine gun

FN P90 5.7x28mm Sub-Machine gun used by army special forces

Heckler & Koch G36 Used in limited numbers 5.56x45mm NATO round

MK 19 grenade launcher 40 mm .

Beretta 92 Service Pistol.

M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and FN Minimi.

Rheinmetall MG3 7.62x51mm NATO Machine gun

M-2 machine gun 12.7 mm .

Heckler & Koch MSG90 7.62x51mm NATO sniper rifle.

Barrett M82 .50 Caliber 12.7×99mm NATO sniper rifle

Milkor MGL 40 mm grenade launcher

MILAN anti-tank missiles.

Spike Anti-tank guided missile

B-300 82 mm light anti-tank rocket.

Blindicide 81 mm light anti-tank rocket.

M40 106 mm recoilless rifle over High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle.

Brandt 60 mm LR Gun-mortar

Mk 19 grenade launcher 40mm automatic granade launcher.

M1 Mortar and M29 Mortar (75 Mortar of 120 mm and 1,500 Mortars between 60 mm and 81 mm)

Mondragon Fusil M1908 7x57mm automatic rifle used in ceremonial activities.

Wheeled combat vehicles

  • High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle with MK 19 grenade launcher, 7.62 mm machine guns, Blindicide 81 mm light anti-tank rocket and 106 mm Recoilless anti-tank gun. (plus 3,638+)
  • Panhard ERC-90 Lynx 6x6 (119) Mexican ERC-90 are known as Lynx 90. They have a Hispano-Suiza Lynx 90 mm turret. Armour: Steel of 10 mm (maximum). It is the more capable vehicle in the Mexican Army.
  • Panhard VBL 4x4 (40) light armoured vehicle used as antitank platform with MILAN - anti-tank missiles and MK 19 grenade launcher 40 mm. Bought new in France in 1985.
  • Panhard VCR 6x6 (Véhicle de Combat á Roues) (40) APC. Armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun. 6x6. Amphibious. Armor: steel of 12 mm (maximum). Crew: 3+9.
  • BDX Armoured personnel carrier (195) 4x4 Armed with a 7.62 mm machine gun (ex Belgian). Armor: Steel of 12.7 mm (maximum)
  • LAV-150ST Armoured Fighting Vehicle (26) Built by Cadillac Gage. 4x4. Amphibious.
  • DN-III APC. (24) Mexican design built (1979) in the Military State Factories (Dirección General de Industria Militar). It is similar to Cadillac Gage Commando LAV-100 and LAV-150. it is a 4x4 whole hull armored. The vehicle is probably based on the base of a US-made Dodge 4x4 truck and is also known as SEDENA 1000. The basic vehicle was armed with only a 7.62 mm machine gun FN MAG on top of a MOWAG-type of turret.
  • DN-IV Caballo (Horse) APC. (40) Mexican design built in the Military State Factories (Dirección General de Industria Militar). The DN-IV (or DN-4) "Caballo" appeared for the first time in 1983. It is based on the DN-III and is powered by a V-8 diesel engine DINA-Cummins V504. There seem to be at least three models: one with a 7.62 mm machine gun on top of a MOWAG turret, and a second one with a 12.7 mm machine gun in a SAMM turret and a MAG at the rear, the last variant of the DN-III is armed with a 20 mm cannon in an open overhead mount.
  • DN-V Toro (Bull). APC (70) Mexican design built in the Military State Factories (Dirección General de Industria Militar). It is similar to LAV-150 and it is a 4x4 whole hull armored. The DN-V is 4x4 APC and reconnaissance vehicle. It was developed in 1984 on the basis of the DN-IV 'Caballo'. The 'Toro' has the same DINA-Cumming V-504 V8 diesel engine. There are at least 4 models of the DN-V and they are often used to tow the TDA 120 mm mortar. The vehicle is fitted with Helio FVT 900 turret with 20 mm gun M62A1. The FVT900 is available in several variants incorporating either the GIAT M621 20 mm, or Oerlikon KAA 20 mm cannon with a 7-62 mm co-axial machine gun (optional). One box of 100 rounds of 20 mm and 1000 rounds (five boxes) of 7-62 mm ammunition can be carried within the turret ready for loading and firing. Another versions are mortar carrier, 75 mm howitzer support fire vehicle (with a WW2 era M8 Howitzer) and Lynx 90 mm turret (last two versions only as prototypes).
  • MOWAG Roland. APC (25) Made in Switzerland. Light vehicle 4x4. Armour: steel of 8 mm. Crew 2+3. Armed with a single man turret with a 7.62 mm machine gun.
  • Chrysler MAC-1 (Mex-1). (40) The MAC-1 [Lit; medium armoured car No 1] has a combat weight of 8,120 kg and a crew of 4. It is powered by a Chrysler HAT 8-cylinder petrol engine of , has a maximum road speed of 104 km/h and a range of 377 km. Main armament consists of a 20 mm gun. Secondary armament is a 7.62 mm machine gun. Mexico use this vehicle as Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle. It is know in Mexico as Mex-1.

Tracked combat vehicles

  • HW-K 11 (40) APC Made by the German Company Henschel for Mexico during the 1960s (1963-1964. Mexico is the only owner. Armed with a 7.62 mm machine gun on turret. Armour: Steel of 15 mm. Some experimental variants were armed with a Helio turret FVT 900 armed with a 20 mm cannon and co-axial machine gun. The FVT900 is available in several variants incorporating either the GIAT M621 2 mm, or Oerlikon KAA 20 mm cannon with a 7-62 mm co-axial machine gun (optional). One box of 100 rounds of 20 mm and 1000 rounds (five boxes) of 7-62 mm ammunition can be carried within the turret ready for loading and firing
  • AMX-VCI (409) IFV version of AMX-13. Versions with 20 mm gun, 7.62 mm machine gun on turret and mortar carrier. (ex Belgian Army)

Artillery

105 mm M101 howitzer (80)

OTO Melara Mod 56 105 mm artillery (80)

155 mm G5 howitzer

See also

External links

References

  • Entry for Mexico in the CIA World Factbook
  • The Mexican Armed Forces in Transition - Jordi Díez & Ian Nicholls
  • Sergio Aguayo Quezada (Editor) El Almanaque Mexicano. México: Editorial Hechos Confiables. 2000.
  • Christopher F. Foss. (Editor) Jane's Pocket Book of Modern Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles. New York: Collier Books. 1974.
  • Christopher F. Foss. Jane's Tank and Combat Vehicles Recognition Guide. New York: Harper Collins Publishers. 2000.

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