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Cablegate: Scenesetter for the Visit of Secretary of Defense

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FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
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INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
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149444
2008-04-10 19:12:00
08MEXICO1082
Embassy Mexico
CONFIDENTIAL

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FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
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INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RAYWMCV/ARMY HQ
RHMFISS/CDR USNORTHCOM
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 MEXICO 001082

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE - FOR OSD

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/10/2017
TAGS: MX OVIP PGOV PINR PREL PTER SNAR
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
GATES TO MEXICO CITY -- APRIL 29-30, 2008

Classified By: ADCM Charles Barclay for reasons 1.4. (B,D)

1. (SBU) On behalf of the U.S. Mission, let me warmly
welcome you to Mexico City. Your visit comes at a key
juncture, as Mexico's military takes stock of its role in
Mexico and the world -- and looks at its evolving
relationship with its U.S. counterpart in light of ongoing
challenges and new responsibilities given it by President
Calderon. You will encounter nuanced attitudes among your
interlocutors regarding cooperation with the U.S. and mixed
perspectives on many key global and regional security issues.
However your visit here will provide an excellent overview
of Mexico's challenging security environment. Yours is the
first SecDef visit in over a decade, and we believe you can
move forward a number of key objectives during your visit,

Calderon's Key Security Challenge

2. (U) In the year and a half since he took office,
President Calderon has taken aggressive steps to turn around
an increasingly difficult domestic security situation -- one
characterized in recent years by growing narco-related
violence and the government's loss of initiative and ground
to organized crime. The president has launched anti-drug
operations in more than ten states, raised pay for the
military, and replaced numerous high-ranking federal police
officers. He initiated sweeping operational reforms among
police elements and successfully sought legislation unifying
federal police forces and reforming the criminal justice
system. These actions and enhancements, when fully
implemented, will strengthen GOM security capabilities
across-the-board, make it more responsive to a wide variety
of security threats and considerably strengthen the bilateral
security partnership.

3. (U) Calderon has placed a premium on strengthening law
enforcement cooperation with the U.S. Early during his term,
he significantly expanded the number of criminal
extraditions, instructed key members of his security team to
build on his predecessor's already positive record of
engagement with USG counterparts and worked closely with us
to develop a joint response to the illegal counter-narcotics
trade based on shared responsibility. The Merida Initiative
under discussion in our congress this month is only the
highest profile element of an emerging pattern of cooperation
across the board, which is likely to take on momentum in
coming years.

Mexican Military Assumes a Pivotal Role

4. (SBU) Mexico's military is pivotal to both Calderon's
overall counter-narcotics strategy, and to the evolving
bilateral security relationship. Mexicans traditionally have
held the institution in high regard (it consistently polls as
the country's most respected). They also expect much of it;
soldiers and sailors perform a variety of civic action
oriented tasks ranging from manning polling stations during
elections to mounting responses to natural disasters. With
many civilian law enforcement institutions frankly in
disarray, or compromised outright by narco-traffickers,
Mexico's military provides Calderon a natural choice as his
initial counter-narcotics spearhead.

5. (SBU) Large-scale military deployments throughout the
country have raised concerns, to be sure. Some argue that
resource and personnel strains will undermine the
institution's overall effectiveness. Others worry that
counter-narcotics operations will expose officers and
enlisted men to the corrosive temptations of corruption.
Sporadic human rights abuses by soldiers in the past year
occasioned heightened concern about this dimension to
military action.

6. (SBU) Senior officers recognize all these concerns and
have taken counter-measures, such as mobile, limited-duration
deployments, astute personnel rotations and the establishment
of a human rights ombudsman. Loyal to their president,
they remain committed to remaining at the forefront of the
counter-narcotics battle until a reformed civilian police
structure is ready to assume the lead.


MEXICO 00001082 002 OF 004


And Contemplates Closer Mil-Mil Ties.

7. (C) As their role in defending their country from one
potent transnational threat broadened in the past year,
Mexican military officials also looked beyond Mexico's
landscape at other such threats and began to acknowledge the
importance of increased security cooperation with the U.S.
Top military officials have in recent months told us
President Calderon had instructed them to reach out to the
U.S. They have shown interest in increasing training
opportunities for their soldiers and sailors, asked us to
broaden intelligence and information sharing and expressed
their desire, to a variety of USG interlocutors, to find
concrete ways to improve military to military ties while
respecting national sovereignty.

8. (C) Both national security secretariats, SEDENA and
SEMAR, played key roles in crafting the Merida Initiative
package of GOM resource requests, participating fully in a
lengthy inter-agency process that our civilian contacts told
us was a milestone both in terms of getting military buy-in
(SEDENA's in particular) for strengthened bilateral
cooperation as well as advancing ties among often-competing
law enforcement and security elements within the executive
branch here.

Residual Attitudes Complicate Dialogue, However

9. (SBU) Despite their interest in strengthening ties to the
U.S., you should know that many members of Mexico's armed
forces remain wary of too closely identifying with U.S.
security interests. We are making progress, but it will take
time to overcome the historic and political differences have
long inhibited military cooperation. This country's extensive
experience with foreign interventions and the loss of over
half of its territory to the U.S. following the
Mexican-American War created permanent scars on the Mexican
psyche, generating a sense of national insecurity and
suspicion about American motives.

10. (SBU) Mexico's post-World War II foreign policy has
reinforced these characteristics, placing a higher premium on
nonintervention and sovereignty than on confronting and
resolving issues. This has often put Mexico at odds with the
U.S. and limited our sense of common cause even as awareness
here has increased that the U.S. and Mexico share
vulnerabilities in the areas of international terrorism,
narcotics trafficking, human smuggling and natural disasters.
Many of your interlocutors will have well-defined
perspectives on the global and regional security environments
that do not reflect our own thinking.

11. (SBU) Mexico does not, for example, share our position
on the need for robust, forward-based defense of our security
interests in the Near East or South Asia. It places less
emphasis on the potential threat to the region emanating from
groups such as Al-Qaida. It is less nervous about Iranian
diplomatic, economic and political outreach in the region
than we are. Closer to home, Mexico has long sought to play
a regional role that is independent of the U.S. With the
exception of the Fox administration, Mexican governments --
including Calderon's -- have generally sought to maintain
warm ties with Cuba. Similarly, the GOM has sought to avoid
high-profile conflicts with the current Venezuelan
government. Mexican officials and citizens alike have viewed
the activities of populist governments, and even certain
armed groups, in the region as relatively benign, thinking
consistent with their country's own revolutionary past.

Key Goals for Your Visit

14. (CONFIDENTIAL -- ENTIRE PARAGRAPH) That said, there are
many concrete areas where you can make headway in moving key
aspects of the bilateral military relationship forward.
During your visit, I hope you can address the following
issues:

--Intel/Information Sharing. We want to respond positively
to the Mexican military's interest in improving our
intelligence/information interface but need to enact formal
agreements that safeguard sensitive material. I would

MEXICO 00001082 003 OF 004


encourage you to press forward on GIOSOMIA agreements, and
assure our contacts of our willingness to do so; SEMAR is
ready to sign but SEDENA is well behind.

-- Counter-Terrorism Assistance: In addition to potential
Merida Initiative assistance, we have an immediate
opportunity to use FY 08 1206 funds to boost the Mexican
military's counter terrorism capabilities. This proposed
$30.0M support includes light surveillance aircraft,
protective equipment, inflatable boats, and forensics
training and equipment. It complements the support now being
considered under the Merida Initiative and helps meet
critical challenges posed by organized criminal networks
employing terror tactics and which could be potentially
exploited by global terrorist organizations. You should take
the opportunity to underscore our desire to make this
equipment available soonest, stressing that now is the time
to move forward on an updated 505 agreement to make it
possible. (Foreign Assistance Act Section 505 sets the terms
and conditions regarding the use and inspection of
transferred U.S. defense articles to which the Government of
Mexico must adhere.)

-- Disaster Planning: Mexico provided disaster assistance to
New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and building our
disaster relief cooperation is a common goal. Last year
SEDENA specifically asked us for consultations related to
crisis planning/preparedness. You should encourage this
interest.

-- Status/accreditation for Military Exchange Officers:
Placement of both SEDENA and SEMAR officers in U.S. military
facilities (including NORTHCOM) marks an extremely positive
development. We have similar officers working within Mexican
institutions. However, our bilateral military education
programs are at risk because of a disagreement over the
nature of accreditation for our respective exchange officers,
notwithstanding a 1994 Memorandum of Understanding. This
issue needs to be worked out in our own interagency, as well
as with the GOM, but you can signal our strong desire to
resolve it in the interest of strengthening exchanges in the
future.

--Peace Keeping: Mexico is beginning to consider deploying
its military in support of peace keeping operations -- a
significant step forward in broadening the mission of the
country's armed forces and developing an over-the-horizon
worldview. Mexico is campaigning for election to the UN
Security Council in 2009, and needs to demonstrate a greater
commitment to international engagement. You should encourage
your counterparts to begin seriously considering when they
can engage in international peace keeping operations. You
can also offer to help the Mexican army and navy develop
their interoperability and other skills to prepare for
eventual participation in IPOs.

15. (SBU) Comment: The Calderon administration has
committed to significantly strengthening the security
relationship with the United States. While it remains keen
to balance this effort against its desire to be seen in the
region as an influential -- and independent -- actor, U.S.
and Mexico cooperation in broad areas of law enforcement has
already deepened considerably under this dynamic president.
The more we work together on such initiatives, the more we
will develop shared outlooks on the range of security issues
we face in the world. Your visit will punctuate an exciting
juncture in the bilateral relationship and will significantly
build momentum to even deeper military-to-military
cooperation. Please let me know what I and my staff at the
Embassy can do to make your time in Mexico as productive as
possible. GARZA

MEXICO 00001082 004 OF 004


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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