Friday, January 16, 2009

PSYOP and Mexico

Joel Kurtzman of the Miliken Institute warns “Mexico’s Instability is a Real Problem postulates the possibility of a failed state on our southern border. (see

This possibility is supported by no less authority than the Joint Forces Command’s report entitled Joint Operating Environment (JOE) 2008 (found at: which says “In particular, the growing assault by the drug cartels and their thugs on the Mexican government over the past several years reminds one that an unstable Mexico could represent a homeland security problem of immense proportions to the United States.”

Let’s explore a hypothetical scenario. Let’s suppose that two drug cartels decide that they have enough fire and economic power to take over a border city each. They target Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, CA and Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso, TX. Each city with a population of 1.5 million people and a comprabley large US city across the border. As it turns out San Diego has a large Navy population and Fort Bliss is not too far from El Paso.

Further let’s assume that the two cartels have signed a non-compete agreement with each other and have enlisted a variety of allied thugs who are only too happy to have exclusive territorial rights and are willing to provide men, guns and drugs to defend the newly won turf.

The Mexican forces prove unable to dislodge the cartels and the President of Mexico appeals to the US to help out.

Meanwhile, the cartels have already made forays across the border on both sides with a spike of violent crime reported on both sides of the border.

The following questions jump out:
How quickly could coordinated forces be brought to bear to address the physical threat?
What kind of information engagement would be mounted to attack the drug forces while assuaging and safeguarding the civilian populations on both sides?
How would the information engagement be coordinated so that all elements including CNA and CNE are employed?
How can the friction between PAO and PSYOP be minimized across all the players?

From a PSYOP perspective do you deploy the forces that are closest and most available (the Reserve Force) or do you deploy active forces from Fort Bragg?

If you decide that a combined PSYOP Task Force (POTF) is the right answer, who formulates the TO&E? To whom does its CDR report? Who should command it?

Who is in charge? State? Defense? The Governors of California or Arizona? Or will the newly elected President decide that he needs to be hands on. It certainly would be the first time that an ultra senior official felt they were smart enough and capable enough to direct what might ordinarily be a lower echelon campaign.

I’ll leave y’all to ponder these questions and for my US colleagues, I hope your team wins on Sunday!

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