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)