The conflict in the Middle East is winding down, US forces are withdrawing, and wars are being handed over to various proxy forces to fight in the context of the so-called Arab Spring from Egypt, to Libya, to Syria. Once Syria falls, more than likely after the US Presidential elections are complete, the Arab Spring with US covert assistance will almost certainly shift its focus to the gem of Eurasia, Iran. But that is another story.
Meanwhile, the policy makers and official white papers are talking about a strategic pivot, a realignment of US forces to confront a real or perceived growing of Chinese spheres of influence in the Pacific Rim. This has already begun in earnest, with China feuding with the Philippines and several South East Asian nations regarding territory disputes, mostly related to islands in the South China Sea. Another realignment of US military and intelligence assets is to the Southern Cone, Central and South America.
The third realignment is to turn the surveillance and intelligence gathering techniques and tactics developed for the War on Terror inward for domestic use, mostly under the banner of cyber-security. The defense establishment will not simply let contracts expire and shrink their margins; rather, they will seek out new venues to apply the same methods of operation.
The second realignment involves various Unmanned Aerial Vehicles being reoriented into the Southern Hemisphere, but there are also a number of rumors that just don’t want to die. Has the Asymmetrical Warfare Group been south of the border to study cartel tactics, techniques, and procedures? Are Spanish-speaking SEAL Team Six operators working with FES, Mexico’s Maritime Commando equivalent? Many attribute the Mexican Marines, and other military forces recent successes in capturing high value targets to close cooperation and assistance from American military and intelligence sources, much of which was hashed out as a part of the Mérida Initiative.
All of this happens in the background of the so-called Fast and Furious scandal, in which the ATF first ordered American gun shop owners to sell guns to straw buyers, and then intentionally allowed them to be smuggled across the border into the hands of cartel sicarios, or assassins. The excuse given by ATF and the Justice Department was that the weapons were allowed to “walk” across the border so that law enforcement officials could track them to the recipients and use the information to make arrests. This excuse is just that, a pathetic cover story for what actually happened. Why was no effort made to Tag, Track, and Locate the smuggled weapons?
The Sinaloa cartel is the oldest cartel in Mexico, with the deepest institution ties. This is a nice way of saying that the cartel cuts checks to government employees on both sides of the border. This cartel has been waging a war against their rivals and the idea that America is interested in managing the war on drugs rather than ending it is an old one. To that end, has the Sinaloa cartel been receiving covert assistance to help them wipe out their rivals and consolidate the drug trade under one organization?
Answers are not forthcoming, however, some leaked information shows that CISEN, the Mexican Intelligence service, along with American agencies may have their crosshairs on the Sinaloa cartel, whether or not they have actually been allied with them in the past. According to leaked StratFor e-mails stolen by the hacker group called Anonymous, and subsequently released by Wikileaks, we have an interesting account about a CISEN agent meeting with American officials at the El Paso intelligence center described by Wikipedia as, “a federal tactical operational intelligence center…hosted at Fort Bliss. Its DoD (United States Department of Defense) counterpart, Joint Task Force North, is at Biggs Army Airfield. Biggs Field, a military airport located at Fort Bliss, is designated a military power projection platform.”
The Mexican counterpart to the El Paso intelligence center is more than likely the Office of Bi-National Intelligence in the business district of Mexico City, alleged to house the DEA, CIA, FBI, and CISEN under one roof where they receive direction from NORTHCOM, perhaps with National Security Council involvement.
In one of the StratFor e-mails, a Mexican diplomat identified as Fernando de la Mora writes, “Information about US military involvement in Mexico is provided only as a need to know basis. The Americans have been adamant about this, and we agree even more. Therefore, I can confirm that there is Marine presence, but I don’t know if it is MFR [Marine Force Recon].”
Take it for what it may or may not be worth, but I think this non-military diplomat may be confusing Force Recon with a certain Naval Special Warfare unit. To clarify, Force Recon still exists as a part of the Marine Corps and goes out to sea with the Navy to provide a Direct Action capability for the fleet they sail with as Navy SEALs no longer provide this function on any regular basis.
Additionally, Borderland Beat reports that according to well placed military sources, the Pentagon has drafted a plan to capture Chapo Guzman that reflects the same template used for the Osama Bin Laden raid. According to this report, SEAL Team Six would insert via helicopter into the mountains of Sinaloa where Guzman is believed to be in hiding. Like with the Bin Laden raid, this would be a “kill” rather than a “capture” mission, the entire affair watched over by NORTHCOM in real-time transmission from UAV’s flying over the objective area.
A raid of this nature with American SOF taking point makes sense, as six previous attempts to capture Guzman by the Mexican military have failed, generally thought due to leaks and tip-offs to the enemy. However, Americans operating unilaterally inside Mexico would be a clear violation of the Mexican constitution and would set off a political firestorm due to a past history of “yankee imperialism.” To this end, the American operators may disguise themselves as Mexican commandos and quickly hand Guzman’s body off to Mexican authorities, allowing them to claim credit for the killing.
According to Brandon Webb’s contact, “There have been units operating in south America for some time now but the SEALs doing this (by themselves) does not add up and I’ve heard nothing on this.” This statement is probably correct. The proposed Guzman raid is just that, a proposal for a contingency plan. This does not mean that troops and assets have been committed to this military action at this time.
When taken together, this information makes it clear that if the Guzman raid is authorized like the Bin Laden raid, there will be safeguards in place to make sure Guzman comes back in a body bag. The reasons are not tactical but rather strategic in the political sense. Osama Bin Laden could never be put on the stand during a trail – the things he would have had to say about America’s support for the mujahedeen during the 1980s alone would have been a massive embarrassment. Enough so that it would call into question American foreign policy decisions going back decades and right up to the present, especially taken in the context of US training and material support for the Syrian and Libyan rebels as well as the Iranian MEK terrorist group.
If Guzman were allowed to take the stand in a US courtroom, what would he have to tell us about the covert support he received? What would he have to tell us about the Fast and Furious scandal? This is a rhetorical question of course because such a thing will never be allowed to happen.