What has México ever done for us is the number one question I get when discussing U.S.-México relations and immigration issues. A narrative has been allowed to exist where México is portrayed as needy and always taking while never giving back. It is the narrative that fits the nativists of the nation. But it is not the truth.
México is the eleventh largest economy in the world and it participates on the world stage as such. However, México’s world participation is not the military-driven optics that many U.S. citizens are expecting to see. That doesn’t mean that the Mexican military or the Mexican government doesn’t offer aid to its brethren when in need.
The Mexican military operates under a three-prong doctrine. They are DN-1, national sovereignty, DN-2 internal security and, DN-3, disaster relief. The DN-3 plan focuses on developing the necessary tools and resources to deal with natural disasters. Although México does not publish its national defense budgets, outside of troop expenses, for national security reasons, the Mexican military budget directs substantial resources to DN-3 as it is the most visible and population friendly function of the armed forces.
The Cocina Comunitaria, or Community Kitchen, is a self-integrated mobile kitchen that can provide up to 7,500 hot meals per day. There are at least six community kitchen units available for disaster relief. Each mobile kitchen is manned and operated by 15 soldiers. Each kitchen unit can feed 500 individuals over three days, or 300 over five days with their integrated supplies, including food stuffs. The mobile kitchens were designed and manufactured by Mexico’s military industrial complex. Portable tortilla making trailers are part of the food contingency.
In addition to the community kitchens, the Mexican military keeps disaster relief medial teams trained, manned and ready for deployment to any natural disaster. Airlift and sealift for disaster supplies are integrated into DN-3. Portable sleeping quarters and other relief supplies are normally pre-deployed to strategic locations across the country.
México’s disaster relief deployments are not limited to national disasters. Since 1996, México has deployed relief efforts 40 times to 20 countries. In 2005, México deployed disaster relief forces to the United States in response to Hurricane Katrina.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated many parts of the country, a 45-vehicle Mexican military convoy crossed the U.S.-México border and headed towards San Antonio. The Mexican military convoy set up at Kelly Air Base and offered assistance to Hurricane Katrina victims. The Mexicans served 170,000 meals and provided about 500 medical services to the hurricane victims. México also distributed over 184,000 tons of supplies. Additionally, México deployed two helicopters, eight all-terrain vehicles, seven amphibious vehicles as well as six boats.
In addition to the disaster relief infrastructure México has developed over the years, it also has a sophisticated search and rescue capability that has developed over time because of earthquakes in central México.
These military deployments do not include the numerous civilian-led efforts and local government efforts deployed to disaster areas. Among them were the civilian search-and-rescue team known as the Topos, who deployed to New York shortly after the 9/11 attacks to help in rescue efforts.
On Wednesday, 33 English-speaking Mexican Red Cross volunteers arrived in Houston. They plan to remain for ten days, until a fresh set of Mexican volunteers relieves them.
On Tuesday, August 29, 2017, Donald Trump formally accepted the offer of four CH-47 Chinook helicopters from Singapore. The Singaporean helicopters were already in the United States as part of their training in Texas. However, as of Thursday, Donald Trump has yet to comment on Mexico’s offer or formally accept it.
In contrast, Trump appointee and current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson praised México’s offer of help. Tillerson stated, “It’s very generous for Mexico to offer help in this very, very challenging time.”