In 2007, the Mexican Drug Cartel controlled 90% of the Cocaine brought to the United States. Cocaine, however, doesn’t come without its close relatives, violence and death. The Mexican War on Drugs is as much a concern to the United States as it is to the Mexican Government. The Justice Department has labelled the many Mexican drug cartels to be “the greatest organized crime threat to the United States”. This is not a war that is fought through conventional means but rather, unconventional means that will take multi-national efforts to win. The Mexican Drug War is a slow and shadowed unconventional war that will require counterinsurgency in the form of intelligence in order to build host nation security forces.
The Mexican cartels are not a single entity. They are a web of organizations in a constant battle for ultimate power and influence. Their main source of income comes from the American thirst for drugs. If the cartels are a web of organizations with many leaders waiting for the more powerful cartel to fall in order to rise, how do we eliminate them? We cannot just send in the U.S Marines into Mexico with an order to close with and destroy the enemy. No, this is an unconventional war and will require counterinsurgency. “Build a Wall”, a catchy phrase said by the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump is a counterinsurgency method that comes with its controversy. “The sole purpose of these entities is one thing and one thing only - money,” said Anthony Williams. If this is their driving force, then we must stop that money flow.
The cartels make up to $39 billion per year by trafficking drugs to the United States. Building a wall along the entire United States and Mexico border is a key to success in order to prevent the drugs from coming through. Out of roughly 1,900 miles of border, only about 650 miles of that border is walled. By preventing travel to the United States with drugs and money, we limit the funds that the cartel will have. Having strong border control is just one step. We must know where and how the cartel travel to the United States. To do this, we need a strong intelligence network.
Gathering intelligence on the cartels are another step toward success. As technology advances, our ability to gather intelligence increases. One form of intelligence being used in the void of a strong border are cameras. The United States Marines are assisting the U.S. Border Patrol by using remote sensors and cameras throughout the border with the goal of finding vulnerable sections of the border. This will help find holes in our border, but what about cartel operations? The cartels are notoriously feared, so relying on Good Samaritans to walk up to police stations with information will not work. The Marine Operating Concept suggests that we must exploit automation.
Cameras are just one way we do that. The use of drones is another way to do that. Drones are one of the most recent advances in technology that are changing the way intelligence is being obtained. The Global Hawk drone can fly over 60,000 feet in the sky, making it difficult to spot by the enemy and can monitor 40,000 square miles per day. The intel gathered on the border will assist us in building a stronger border, but the intel gathered on Mexican land will require action on the Mexican Government. Our work is not finished there though, the United States has built a partnership with the Mexican Military by providing training and more.
Building Host Nation Security Forces is necessary to win this war. Through the Merida Initiative, led by the Department of State, the United States has spent $3 billion in providing intelligence, training, and non-lethal equipment to the Mexican Government. The goal of this initiative is to disrupt the cartel and institutionalize the rule of law. By utilizing the National Defense Strategy and integrating the U.S. Military with U.S. Interagency, we can make this happen. General Lori J. Robinson has told the congressional committee that the United States Marines has “provided small-unit training to over 1,500 Mexican Marines to help prepare those troops for the fight against the cartels.”. The proper training of the Mexican Marines is a key to success in this irregular war. The dismantling of the cartels on Mexican soil will need to be done by the Mexican Marines.
This war may be far from over, but battles are being won every day. As technology advances, our counterinsurgency efforts only increase and become stronger, forcing the Mexican cartels to adapt to us. Every year, our borders become more secure, our intelligence grows, and our Host Nation Security Forces become a much more difficult force for the cartels to deal with. “The homeland is no longer a sanctuary”, the United States will continue to evolve in this irregular war.
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