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Conservative Review

Texas border experts call foul on rules of engagement for troops at border

Mexican soldiers detaining and disarming our active-duty soldiers on our own soil is a bigger story than what either the government or media is making of it. We spend roughly $716 billion on the military every year and spent trillions in the Middle East, but our own territory remains unsafe not only for our ranchers, but evidently for our own active-duty military.

Here’s what we know so far from NORTHCOM and from the serious incident report obtained by Newsweek. On April 13, in broad daylight, five or six Mexican soldiers crossed over the Rio Grande River, which is our definitive international border, forced two U.S. Army soldiers out of an unmarked Customs and Border Protection (CBP) truck, disarmed one of them, asserted that the U.S. soldiers were on Mexico’s territory, and left. Our government is very clear that our soldiers were on our side of the river, but they suggest that Mexican soldiers might have been confused about the border line. The State Department, CBP, and the Department of Defense (DOD) have all declined to comment on whether our government has solicited a response or an apology from the government in Mexico City.

While government officials will not provide more details, what we know raises some disturbing questions about both the intentions of these Mexican soldiers and the readiness, strategy, mindset, and rules of engagement of our military at the border. This incident further raises some uncomfortable questions about our government’s understanding of the border and willingness to confront the severity of the problem of the cartels and the rogue Mexican army units covering for them, according to two Texas border experts who spoke to CR.

Jaeson Jones, a retired captain of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division, told CR that he is deeply concerned about this incident. “While those of us who have been stationed in west Texas and worked the border for decades understand the regular reality of Mexican military incursions and ops testing our positions, this latest incident is in fact more alarming,” he said.

Jones emphatically believes that these were rogue Mexican soldiers engaged in operations on behalf of the cartels to test the strength and tactics of our recently deployed military.

“I can assure you that cartel leadership working the area were debriefed as to the type of weapons and communications our soldiers were carrying: [Whether] the vehicle was armored and the level of resistance the Mexican military received from our soldiers. The response time would have also been measured as to how long it took for backup to arrive post-incident. Cartel operations on U.S. soil are very calculated. They involve tradecraft and the utilization of encrypted communications to monitor all U.S law enforcement in the area.”

What did the Mexican military and cartels learn from this incident? Jones told me that from years of debriefing top cartel members, he is confident they are “testing our defensive capabilities at the border and protecting shipments of contraband for the cartels.”

“We have seen again and again where corrupt Mexican military units working for the Mexican cartels provide counter surveillance, intelligence, tradecraft, and technical equipment to protect narcotics being smuggled into the United States.”

Jones was very critical of the lack of preparation of our military and said the cartels have now learned that even when we send down active-duty troops, “our U.S. soldiers on the border are a paper tiger.”

“Most concerning is that our soldiers are not given the weapons needed to protect themselves, nor are they granted the authority to conduct detentions while assigned to the border. I have said this for years as someone who has assigned my intelligence officers to train our incredible soldiers with the National Guard and Counterdrug National Guard forces on the cartels’ capabilities prior to deployment. If we as Americans are going to send these great soldiers into harm’s way, we need to give all of them the equipment to protect themselves and the authority to do the job.”

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