“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

Mexican Special Forces sniper training in Colorado in April 2021.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador requested the Senate of Mexico for authorization to allow 11 US military instructors to enter the country for two months at the beginning of 2024.

Elements of the Special Forces Group (SOCNORTH) of the Northern Special Operations Command of the United States Army (USNORTHCOM) would train Mexican troops. Their entry would be part of the training to “Strengthen the Capacities of the Special Forces of the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA).”

The Senate was informed that this group of soldiers would enter national territory: “A delegation made up of 11 instructor elements from the Special Forces Group of the Northern Special Operations Command of the United States Army.” They would enter Mexico aboard US Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft and land at the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA), on January 22 to leave the country on March 22, 2024.

US Special Forces Personnel

SOCNORTH is the Special Operations division of USNORTHCOM, the command tasked with the defense of the United States territory and regional partners including Canada, Mexico, and Bahamian islands. This command was created following the 9/11 terrorist attacks with the Special Operations Command established in 2013. Currently, the command is located at the Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado.

SOCNORTH is tasked with counter-threat networks, SOF response to crises, counter-state aggression, partner capability development, and defense support to civil authorities. Counter-threat networks include the mission sets: Counter Terrorism (CT), Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD), and foreign Counter Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC).

The United States Army personnel entering Mexico will be: Arnulfo A. Morán, James A. McDowell, Jeffery T. Onstad, Derick Q. Dees, Brandon A. Yurong, Logan W. McFadden, Gabriel K. Elliot, Maverik Gurka, Abraham Fernández, Joseph E. Cherneski, and Brian P. Calvo.

The document details that, for the purpose of military training, the US military delegation would enter with weapons, ammunition, and equipment. Training would be carried out at the facilities of the Special Forces Training Center, in Temamatla, State of Mexico, and the Regional Training Center of Region I Military, in San Miguel de los Jagüeyes, in the same state.

“The purpose of this training is to promote cooperation with the Armed Forces through the exchange of training, which will allow us to face common threats in the northern hemisphere of the American continent and strengthen the bilateral military relationship.” stated the Mexican President.

AMLO also asked legislators to authorize the travel of Army elements outside of Mexico.

“Request for authorization to allow the departure of the elements that make up the delegation of national troops outside the limits of the country, in order for them to participate in the international competition “SWAT Challenge”, which will take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates during February 2024,” says the Senate of the Republic gazette.

This past June the Senate also authorized President López Obrador to allow the temporary entry of 50 US Marines who would participate in the “Bilateral Amphibious Exercise 2023” which took place in July. During the same period, Colombia also hosted the UNITAS LXIV, a multi-national maritime exercise that brings together 20 nations from all over the world to train forces in joint maritime operations that enhance tactical proficiency and increase interoperability.

In 2010, both SEDENA and the US military confirmed that US Special Forces, from the same Northern Command were advising and training Mexican soldiers. At that time, the training consisted of counter-insurgency training based on tactics learned by the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere and how they could apply against drug cartels in Mexico.