Chair­man, Pres­i­dent Dis­cuss U.S. Sup­port to Mex­i­co

By Jim Gara­mone
Amer­i­can Forces Press Service 

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2009 — The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma dis­cussed the sit­u­a­tion in Mex­i­co and the mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties that could assist the coun­try in a March 7 conversation. 

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen had just returned from a trip to Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colom­bia and Mex­i­co. The pres­i­dent and the chair­man talked about the trip as a whole, but focused specif­i­cal­ly on Mex­i­co and the country’s fight against orga­nized crime and drug cartels. 

“The pres­i­dent is obvi­ous­ly inter­est­ed in the sit­u­a­tion in Mex­i­co, and asked the chair­man to back-brief him on the trip,” a Joint Staff offi­cial speak­ing on back­ground said. 

The U.S.-Mexican bor­der is an area of con­cern. More than 5,000 peo­ple were killed in Mex­i­co last year as a result of drug-relat­ed vio­lence, and more than 2,000 have been killed so far this year. Most of the deaths occurred in the north­ern Mex­i­can states, but it is not lim­it­ed to that area. 

The chairman’s trip was aimed at improv­ing the mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship between the two coun­tries. To that end, Mullen met with Mex­i­can Sec­re­tary of Nation­al Defense Army Gen. Guiller­mo Gal­van and Sec­re­tary of the Navy Adm. Juan Fran­cis­co Saynez on March 6. 

Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent Felipe Calderon ordered the Mex­i­can mil­i­tary to take on the car­tels. U.S. offi­cials are work­ing with Mex­i­can author­i­ties to stem the flow of weapons from the Unit­ed States to Mex­i­co and to stop mon­ey laun­der­ing in the Unit­ed States. 

In Mex­i­co, Mullen talked about a “shared respon­si­bil­i­ty” for the cause of the cri­sis, and said the Unit­ed States had a shared respon­si­bil­i­ty to clean it up as well. 

Oba­ma and Mullen dis­cussed what mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties might apply to the sit­u­a­tion, the offi­cial said. This is not any kind of com­mit­ment, but rather is just a dis­cus­sion at this point, the offi­cial emphasized. 

In Mex­i­co, Mullen said the U.S. mil­i­tary had learned what capa­bil­i­ties worked against ter­ror­ist net­works. The same capa­bil­i­ties also may work against drug traf­fick­ing networks. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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