CIA Operatives Engaged in War on Mexican Cartels

BY Herschel Smith
3 years ago

From The New York Times:

The United States is expanding its role in Mexico’s bloody fight against drug trafficking organizations, sending new  C.I.A. operatives and retired military personnel to the country and considering plans to deploy private security contractors in hopes of  turning around a multibillion-dollar effort that so far has shown few results.

In recent weeks, small numbers of C.I.A. operatives and American civilian military employees have been posted at a Mexican military base, where, for the first time, security officials from both countries work side by side in collecting information about drug cartels and helping plan operations. Officials are also looking into embedding a team of American contractors inside a specially vetted Mexican counternarcotics police unit.

Officials on both sides of the border say the new efforts have been devised to get around Mexican laws that prohibit foreign military and police from operating on its soil, and to prevent advanced American surveillance technology from falling under the control of Mexican security agencies with long histories of corruption.

“A sea change has occurred over the past years in how effective Mexico and U.S. intelligence exchanges have become,” said Arturo Sarukhán, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States. “It is underpinned by the understanding that transnational organized crime can only be successfully confronted by working hand in hand, and that the outcome is as simple as it is compelling:  we will together succeed or together fail.”

Robert Haddick writing for Foreign Policy observes:

Policymakers responsible for the U.S. assistance effort in Mexico seem to be applying some lessons learned during America’s decade of war. The intelligence analysis centers the U.S. contractors are now setting up in Mexico are innovations developed by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, and elsewhere. As described by General Stanley McChrystal in an essay he wrote for Foreign Policy, the centers are deliberately located down at the tactical level and gather collectors and analysts across intelligence agencies together in one room. The goal is to improve collaboration and more rapidly respond to incoming information and adversary activity. A decade of practical experience across the globe has refined this concept, which the United States is now exporting to Mexico.

We’ve heard this before – this notion of shared organic intelligence assets, different perspectives from different agencies working in concert and in real time, the employment of electronic assets and signals intelligence combined with on the spot analysis, all being used by real operators on the ground who know more about their enemies than they know about themselves – and it has become folklore that General McChrystal and his special operators hitting high value targets put an end to the insurgency in Iraq.  It’s a narrative that I reject, and it isn’t born out of good historiography.  It’s just myth that high value target hits won the campaign in Iraq.

Forecast: We shouldn’t oppose high value target hits in the war on the cartels, since they seem to operate with a more centralized focus than classical insurgencies (which tend more towards swarm theory).   But this will not itself end the cartels, or even hold their growth and the increase in terror in abatement.  This will prove to be a failed effort if it is the only point of impact in the campaign.

The tools exist to seal the border (Marines deployed to combat outposts on the border, with loosened rules for the use of force, conducting daily patrols and combining their efforts with force multipliers such as drones, increased numbers of border agents and comprehensive searches of all vehicles crossing the border, etc.).  The question is will they ever be put to use, and this is a direct function of the will to win the campaign against the cartels?

  • http://umc-unofficiallaymanopenforum.ning.com/ Warbucks

    Just in the nick of time for the “we gotta do something” primal needs of the US voters in the 2012 election cycle. Our drug laws do not work on any level, let’s work to change them.

  • DirtyMick

    I still don’t know why people take Taliban Stan seriously. He was a failure as a theater commander and has blood on his hands. He should be in Leavenworth instead of teaching at Yale

  • Rick Keyes

    Where I got my degree offered courses specifically on the War on Drugs and no matter how you approach the problem we are fighting the WoD wrong.

    We have tried for years and failed to stop the flow of drugs into the country. Until the borders are controlled something neither party will do drugs will continue to flow. The problem is not the suppliers but the users. Billions are spent to fight the War on Drugs but very little is done to try and stop the use of drugs. It has been proven that the few times police efforts have driven up the price of drugs that the users will pay the difference.

    While playing whack a mole with cartel leaders makes it appear like we are doing something the WoD cannot be fought properly until the same amount of attention is paid to the users as the suppliers.

  • Cesar

    La juventud de los U.S.A. se encuentra bajo el ataque de los ejercitos de las drogas, las familias Americanas sufren y pagan las consecuencias, que pasa con el ejercito Americano?, porque no da la batalla en su propio territorio?, si un criminal entra a tu casa a destruir tu familia en la noche y tu piensas que debes combatir el criminal en la casa de tu vecino?, sales a combatir a la casa de tu vecino y dejas sin defensa las puertas de tu casa?, los criminales pueden entrar a tu casa desde otra casa de otro vecino porque la puerta de tu casa no tiene defensa.


You are currently reading "CIA Operatives Engaged in War on Mexican Cartels", entry #7404 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) CIA,Mexican Cartels and was published August 17th, 2011 by Herschel Smith.

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