Mexican, U.S. military leaders nurture security partnership


The United States commander responsible for homeland defense of North America met with his counterparts in Mexico in July 2021 to foster security cooperation and discuss areas of mutual interest.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command, met July 6-8, 2021, with Mexican Defense Secretary Luis Crescencio Sandoval Gonzales and Mexican Secretary of the Navy Adm. Jose Rafael Ojeda Duran in Mexico City .

The defense leaders discussed air surveillance cooperation, border security, countering common threats, defense cooperation and the upcoming Mexico International Aerospace Fair, USNORTHCOM reported.

“Although we’ve been routinely communicating virtually over the past year, I’m honored to meet face to face with Mexican military leadership here in Mexico to discuss areas of mutual interest,” VanHerck said, according to USNORTHCOM. “The U.S. and Mexico share a close partnership that ensures we’re able to stand together and build upon our existing security cooperation efforts.” (Pictured: From left, Mexican Secretary of the Navy Adm. Jose Rafael Ojeda Duran, Mexican Defense Secretary Luis Crescencio Sandoval Gonzales and U.S. Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck meet in Mexico City in July 2021.)

VanHerck has outlined USNORTHCOM’s critical role in supporting law enforcement agencies on the border, where the U.S. National Guard has deployed about 3,500 troops. The U.S. military provided 24 helicopters to monitor migrants crossing the border, VanHerck said in March 2021. Military personnel also relay information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Border security is national security,” VanHerck said, “and we need to know exactly who is coming across that border and what their intent is.”

The military also provides vehicle maintenance for civilian law enforcement agencies so they can focus on border protection, he said.

USNORTHCOM reinforces a foundation of mutual trust and friendship through bilateral engagements such as VanHerck’s visit to Mexico City, according to the command.

One area of mutual interest is the national security threat posed by transnational criminal organizations. Two major hurricanes, the spread of COVID-19 and instability caused by transnational criminal organizations have led to a flood of people leaving Central America, South America and Mexico for the U.S., VanHerck told reporters. “These transnational criminal organizations are a threat to us here in the United States and to our partner nations. This is a national security imperative, and it drives irregular migration as we’re seeing today,” he said.