The Mexican Army is not very large and not mechanized, but it is highly effective in terms of fighting narco traffickers.
It is a largely a highly specialized force that is almost entirely defensive. Furthermore it is a model of efficiency. When compared to the US – the Mexican government does maintains it military, including the army at a cost per man that is approximately” one-eighth” of what in times of peace the United States has been accustomed to spend on its armed forces.
The Mexican Army has an active duty force of over 267,506 (2014 est.).
The Army is under the authority of the National Defense Secretariat or SEDENA.
It has three components: a national headquarters, territorial commands, and independent units. The Minister of Defense commands the Army via a centralized command system and many general officers.
The Army uses a modified continental staff system in its headquarters.
The Mexican Air Force is a branch of the Mexican Army. Recruitment of personnel happens from ages 18 through 21 if secondary education was finished, 22 if High school was completed. Recruitment after age 22 is impossible in the regular army; only auxiliary posts are available. As of 2009, starting salary for Mexican army recruits was $6,000 Mexican pesos, or about $500 US dollars per month, with an additional lifetime $10,000 peso monthly pension. A fraction of the cost of US troops.
The core units of the Mexican army are nine infantry brigades and a number of independent regiments and infantry battalions.
The main maneuver elements of the Mexician army are organized in three corps, each consisting of three infantry brigades, all based in and around the Federal District. Distinct from the brigade formations, independent regiments and battalions are assigned to zonal garrisons (45 in total) in each of the country’s 12 military regions.
Infantry battalions, composed of approximately 300 troops, generally are deployed in each zone, and certain zones are assigned an additional motorized cavalry regiment or an artillery regiment.
México is divided into twelve Military Regions or districts composed of forty-four subordinate Military Zones [the 2007 ed. of the IISS lists 12 regions, 45 zones]. Operational needs determine how many zones are in each region, with corresponding increases and decreases in troop strength.
Usually on the secretary of defense’s recommendation, the senior zone commander is also the commander of the military region containing the military zone. A military zone commander has authority over every unit operating in his territory, including the Rurales (Rural Defense Force) that occasionally have been a Federal political counterweight to the power of state governors. Zone commanders provide the national defense secretary with socio-political conditions intelligence about rural areas. Moreover, they traditionally have acted in co-ordination with the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA) on planning and resources deployment.
The Brigades, all based in and around the Federal District (encompassing the Mexico City area), are the only real maneuver elements in the army. With their support units, they are believed to account for over 40 percent of the country’s ground forces.
According to The Military Balance, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the army has six brigades: one armored, two infantry, one motorized infantry, one airborne, and the Presidential Guard Brigade – the latter includes a reaction group, (grupo de reaccion inmediata y potente, G.R.I.P.), whose members are trained in martial arts such as karate, aikijutsu, tae kwon do, kick boxing, kung fu, judo, and silat; furthermore, they are trained in techniques and tactics in order to protect high-ranking officials and civil servants, such as the President. The Third military police brigade was transferred to the Federal Preventive Police in 2008.
The armored brigade is one of two new brigades formed since 1990 as part of a reorganization made possible by an increase in overall strength of about 25,000 troops. The brigade consists of three armored regiments and one of mechanized infantry. Each of the two infantry brigades consists of three infantry battalions and an artillery battalion.
The motorized infantry brigade is composed of three motorized infantry regiments.
The airborne brigade consists of two army and one air force battalion.
The elite Presidential Guard Brigade reports directly to the Office of the President and is responsible for providing military security for the president and for visiting dignitaries. The Presidential Guard consists of three infantry battalions, one special force battalion, and one artillery battalion.
Distinct from the brigade formations are independent regiments (all regiments are battalion sized) and battalions assigned to zonal garrisons. These independent units consist of one armored cavalry regiment, nineteen motorized cavalry regiments, one mechanized infantry regiment, seven artillery regiments, and three artillery and eighteen infantry battalions. Infantry battalions are small, each of approximately 300 troops, and are generally deployed in each zone. Certain zones are also assigned a motorized cavalry regiment or one of the seven artillery regiments. Smaller detachments are often detailed to patrol more inaccessible areas of the countryside, helping to maintain order and resolve disputes.
The Army has a Special Forces Corps unified command with 3 Special Forces Brigades, a High Command GAFE group, a GAFE group assigned to the Airborne Brigade and several Amphibious Special Forces Groups.
The Special Forces Brigades consist of nine SF battalions. The 1st Brigade has the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions; the 2nd Brigade has the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions; and the 3rd Brigade has the 4th and 9th Battalions and a Rapid Intervention Force group.
The High Command GAFE is a group with no more than 100 members and is specially trained in counter-terrorist tactics. They receive orders directly from the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto.
The Amphibious Special Forces Groups are trained in amphibious warfare, they give the army extended force to the coastal lines.
Sources used in this report include Wikipedia and the Mexican Ministry of Defense
The Mexican Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas de México) are composed of two independent entities:
- The Mexican Army, which includes the Mexican Air Force (FAM). The Presidential Guard, Military Police, and Special Forces are part of the Army, but have their own chains of command.
- The Mexican Navy, which includes the Naval Infantry Force and the Naval Aviation (FAN).
The Army and Navy have two separate government departments, the National Defense Secretariat and the Naval Secretariat, and maintain two independent chains of command, with no joint command except the President of Mexico.