By Jon Dougherty
In an incident that had troubling international implications, especially given the tension among Americans regarding illegal immigration, officials with U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) said Saturday that a squad of armed Mexican troops detained U.S. soldiers for a brief period earlier this month…inÂ Texas.
NORTHCOMÂ told CNNÂ the incident happened in the afternoon on April 13; the U.S. personnel were conducting routine surveillance, according to the command.
“On April 13, 2019, at approximately 2 p.m. CDT, five to six Mexican military personnel questioned two U.S. Army soldiers who were conducting border support operations in an unmarked [Customs and Border Protection] vehicle near the southwest border in the vicinity of Clint, Texas,” NORTHCOM said in a statement.
During the incident, the Mexican troops — all armed — ordered the two U.S. soldiers, a sergeant and a private, out of an unmarked vehicle. NORTHCOM said the Mexican soldiers pointed their weapons at the U.S. troops and detained them for a period of time.
According to an incident report detailing the encounter, the sergeant was armed as well with a handgun, but Mexican troops disarmed him.
“After a brief discussion between the soldiers from the two nations, the Mexican military members departed the area. The U.S. soldiers immediately contacted CBP, who responded quickly. Throughout the incident, the U.S. soldiers followed all established procedures and protocols,” John Cornelio, deputy director of public affairs for North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and NORTHCOM,Â told Newsweek.
The report claimed that Mexican troops moved “tactically fast” which prevented the U.S. soldiers from radioing for backup personnel. In addition, uniforms worn by the Mexican troops as well as their vehicle were not marked with “identifiable seals or symbols.”
The incident took place south of the border fence, but north of the Rio Grande, which is the official border demarcation line at that section of the border.
Following the incident, Customs and Border Protection agents arrived at the scene, along with members from the soldiers’ unit, the incident report claimed.
“An inquiry by CBP and DOD revealed that the Mexican military members believed that the US Army soldiers were south of the border,” NORTHCOM noted in its statement.
“Though they were south of the border fence, U.S. soldiers remained in U.S. territory, north of the actual border,” the statement continued.
Mind you, the demarcation line and border sectors are well-known to both U.S. and Mexican military personnel.
While this encounter ended without incident, the fallout from an actual confrontation with an exchange of gunfire and casualties is incalculable. Diplomacy aside, it’s hard to imagine that POTUS Donald Trump, who has no doubt been briefed about this incident, would not respond by ordering additional U.S. troops to the border with orders to ‘protect and defend’ the country.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10