Source: Mullen offers Mexico update to Obama
Anne Gearan, Ap Military Writer – 1 hr 24 mins ago
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama was briefed Saturday by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen about the drug wars in Mexico and wanted to know how the United States can help.
"Clearly one of the things the president was interested in was the U.S military capability that may or may not apply to our cooperation with the Mexicans," said a U.S. military official who requested anonymity because the discussions were private. "He was very interested in what kind of military capabilities may be applied."
Mullen briefed Obama Saturday morning about discussions with Mexican military leaders about the drug wars there.
Mullen, who was in Mexico on Friday, has referred to the recent spike in violence as a crisis. Mullen has said Mexico could borrow from U.S. tactics in the fight against terrorism as it battles a crisis of drug-related violence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Saturday, the military official said the additional U.S. help could come in the form of U.S. equipment and intelligence-sharing.
"We're already sharing information with the Mexican military and have been looking for ways to expand that particularly in the realm of intelligence," the official said.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said that during the briefing Obama also underscored his admiration for the work Mexican President Felipe Calderon was undertaking to stem violence.
More than 1,000 people have been killed in Mexico in drug-related violence this year. In 2008, the toll doubled from the previous year to 6,290. Both the U.S. and Canada have warned that murders related to drug activity in certain parts of Mexico, particularly along the border with the U.S., raised the level of risk in visiting the country.
There are signs the violent competition among Mexican drug and smuggling cartels is spilling across the border, as cities in Arizona report increases in such crimes as home invasions. More than 700 people were arrested as part of a wide-ranging crackdown on Mexican drug cartels operating inside the United States, the Justice Department said last month.
Last weekend, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he also saw opportunities for the U.S. military to help with military training, resources and intelligence.