Courtesy Reuters

The Mexican Army

MEXICO'S army is not a parade-ground army. Nor is it large or highly mechanized when judged in comparison with the armed forces of Great Powers. Yet, it serves the Mexican nation in the multiple capacity as guarantor of the stability of the constituted government, keeper of the public peace, and active collaborator in the country's public works program -- and it does this 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. Mexico's army is a working army, and on its various internal fronts it wages a peacetime campaign all the year round.

During the past twenty years the Mexican Army has been undergoing a process of transformation, both in mission and in organization. From a force of revolutionary irregulars that set up and pulled down governments at the will of its commanding generals it has grown into a national institution fulfilling the orthodox function of protecting the nation against its enemies. From 1920 till the present these enemies have been internal ones: rebels and bandits. Now, however, the Army has a new mission -- to defend the country against external aggression. Since the Havana Conference of last July, this has come to include Hemisphere Defense.

In order to discuss Mexico's rôle in Hemisphere Defense, we must first examine her strategic position and what opportunities it offers for invasion by non-American Powers.

On the east, Mexico is protected from direct attack by the firm control which the United States exercises over the approaches to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. To the south the rough terrain and impenetrable jungle along the Guatemalan border -- through which there is only one major line of communication, the railroad line running down to Suchiate -- protect Mexico in that quarter. In any event, Guatemala, with less than three million inhabitants, is not regarded in Mexico as a potential threat. A more immediate danger lies

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