What Special Counsel Jack Smith Said About the Trump Indictment Was Eye-Opening
Trump Indictment Excitement, EVs Will Battle Racism, and Another FBI Scandal Getting Ignor...
Biden’s Backdoor Student Loan Bailout Threatens to Soak Taxpayers
Megyn Kelly and the Platinum Rule
Time for Western Democracies to Stand with Iranian People
Why Does the Left Want No Future For Any of Us?
Is Europe Waking Up From the Net Zero Nightmare?
Where There's Smoke There's Hysteria
Rep. Andy Biggs Says Mayorkas Is Intentionally Destroying the U.S. Border
Liberal News Host Melts Down After Guest Points Out Hypocrisy In Trump Indictment
New York State Democrats Look to Bring Back Gerrymandered Election Rigging Once Again
Biden Criticized For Not Being Interviewed Yet In Classified Docs Probe As Trump...
Trump Was DJ-ing, Playing Elvis Hours After Learning of Second Indictment
Trump's Indictment Reveals Who Is On Trump's Side and Who Wants Him Destroyed
Dem Governor Vetoes Trans Student Bathroom Bill

NAFTA's Evolving NATO?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
NAFTA isn't NATO, at least not yet. However, the North American defense ministers conference hosted by Canada the last week of March sent the low-key but categorically public message that Mexico has emerged as the U.S. and Canada's regional security partner.

The conference, held in Ottawa, was the first scheduled trilateral defense ministers meeting involving all three North American countries in which Mexico officially participated. The three countries agreed to increase their efforts to combat drug cartels, to include sharing intelligence and cooperating in land and sea missions to stop cartel operations.

As allies in World War I and World War II, the U.S. and Canadian security partnership was close prior to the creation of NATO, but the Cold War threat that Soviet bombers and ballistic missiles posed to North America prompted near-seamless defense cooperation between the two nations. To counter the Soviet air and space threat, Washington and Ottawa created the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to defend North American skies. Though the primary threat was a Soviet land-based bomber and missile attack over the North Pole, submarine-launched missiles could strike from any direction. Thus NORAD's perimeter extended from the Arctic Sea to --- well, the Gulf of Mexico and further south.

The truth is, Mexico was not so much the missing man in continental defense as it was the silent contributor.

U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) plays a vital role in U.S. homeland security. NORTHCOM and NORAD are now collocated and are functionally linked. NORTHCOM has had Mexican military liaison officers (from the Mexican Army, Navy and Air Force) operating with its staff for several years. The U.S. provides Mexico with security intelligence information -- and thanks to Mexican media coverage, the Mexican public knows it.

The security relationship has evolved to the point where Mexico and the U.S. are conducting low-key and narrowly focused military training exercises. This week (beginning May 2), NORTHCOM has scheduled exercise Ardent Sentry 2012. Officials describe the exercise as a joint U.S.-Mexico simulation involving military support for civilian agencies in a natural disaster. Providing civilian agencies with appropriate military support during a natural disaster is a major NORTHCOM mission. The 2012 exercise scenario involves a hurricane striking southern Texas. Of course, if a hurricane hits Brownsville, Texas, and drives up the Rio Grande, the storm will also smash Mexico's northern Gulf coast.

A dozen or so years ago, a public exercise involving the Mexican and U.S. militaries might have surprised many U.S. and Mexican citizens, and given Mexican historical suspicions of the U.S. military, elicited sharp political criticism from nationalists across the Mexican political spectrum. Mexicans, too, remember the Alamo, but not quite in the John Wayne tradition.

Dreadful recent history has changed perceptions. Al-Qaida's 9-11 atrocity and Mexico's bitter Cartel War demonstrate that North America is a battle zone facing an array of destructive threats, from militarized crime to terrorism to conventional military threats. Mexican security officials sent the message -- with political clarity -- that increased intelligence sharing, closer operational liaison with the U.S. and Canada, and training assistance are in Mexico's interest.

NORTHCOM has indicated future exercises could involve U.S., Canadian and Mexican air and naval assets responding to illegal (criminal) activities. Natural disaster is one thing, but exercising a joint response to external human threats is much more blatantly military, in terms of publicly acknowledged U.S.-Mexican cooperation. Air and naval assets responding to illegal activities suggests a maritime and air narcotics smuggling scenario. Given the three nations' common concerns with the Cartel War and heavily armed criminal syndicates, this training scenario is just common sense. Jingoist politicians may object, but sensible leaders know it.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member


Trending on Townhall Video