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The Mexican Marine Corps turns 199: from a small force to leading special operations

The Mexican Marines (SEMAR) currently consists of 36 battalions, 8 independent naval brigades and two amphibious brigades as well as six independent companies and is celebrating its 199th anniversary. It is nearing its bicentennial after a period of restructuring that began in 2000 during the Vicente Fox presidency in the context of the September 11th terrorist attacks in the United States and has been refined over the past six years to focus on this body in Internal security and combating organized crime missions.

During the government of President Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) and under the command of the Secretary of the Navy, Ramn Lorenzo Franco, the Infantera de Marina had been paralyzed and, with little attention, turned into a force of brigades on the edge of the country. , Basic equipment, training and limited capacity and under a not very solid structure to face complicated and volatile scenarios.

In 1993, a year before the armed uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in Chiapas (January 1, 1994), the Secretary of the Navy, Luis Carlos Ruano Angulo, ordered the termination of the Marine Corps career This is on the Attributed to the existence of other command bodies within the institution that limit the formation, resources and structure of the operational heart of the Mexican Navy right on the verge of conflict with the Zapatista guerrillas.

SEMAR itself recognizes in its history books that this phase was marked by breaks and continuities in the institution. In its report on that period, the Navy notes that an unforeseen consequence of the shutdown was the hiring of new naval elements, which had an impact on the response to the emergence of the EZLN and other problems on Mexico’s southern border, such as Arms, drug and human trafficking. This phase in the existence of the marine infantry left behind the formation of 24 battalions, consisting of 12,000 seamen, but acting without a unit and fragmentarily. With Vicente Fox in the country’s presidency (2001-2006) and Admiral Marco Antonio Peyrot at the helm of SEMAR, the Marines saw profound changes caused by the terrorist attacks in the United States and with the immediate precedent set by the Zapatista guerrillas and others minor armed movements that they supported.

With Fox, the Marine Corps focused on creating specialized units such as the Amphibious Reaction Forces and Special Forces to be developed by an anti-terrorist unit that has been stationed on one of the Campeche Sound oil platforms since 2003. who have favourited Ixtoc-Alfa Anti-Terrorist Base. As a result of the attacks in the USA, SEMAR created departments for strategic monitoring in oil plants, hydropower plants, thermoelectric and nuclear power plants as well as in airports and seaports.

During Felipe Caldern’s government (2007-2012), with Admiral Mariano Francisco Saynez Mendoza as Secretary of the Navy, the Marines went through more profound changes to improve their response to the presidential war on drugs. The marine infantry consisted of 36 battalions (approx. 22,320 employees), 8 independent naval brigades (approx. 16,000 elements), two amphibious brigades (one in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Pacific). each with approx. 3,000 employees) and six independent companies (approx. 134 elements per company).

In the following administration, that of Enrique Pea Nieto with Admiral Vidal Francisco Sobern Sanz, the IM received special attention as well as the area of ​​naval intelligence and technological development to give these agendas in the fight against organized crime more strength. The SEMAR Accountability Report at the end of the Pea Nieto administration mentions some of the measures taken to strengthen the Marine Corps from various naval agencies:

With the ENSAR construction and equipment project, 25 Defender-class ships were acquired in Chetumal, Quintana Roo, two for each ENSAR. San Felipe, Baja California; Santa Rosala, Puerto Cortes and Loreto, Baja California Sur; Libertad, Chiapas; Topolobampo, Sinaloa; Lerma, Campeche; Salina Cruz, Oaxaca; San Blas, Nayarit; Veracruz, Veracruz; Socorro Island; Colima; and an Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo; Warrior; and three defenders for the Naval Port Protection Unit in Lzaro Crdenas, Michoacn. With the Naval Air Fleet modernization program, five ZLIN aircraft were acquired, a Gulfstream 550, a King Air 350ER, 15 Zlin Z 242L Gur, two T-6C +, two King Air 350ER, two Zlin 143 LSi and a Challenger 605., four King Air 350, 11 T-6C +, two C295W and the transfer of a King Air 350ER by the Attorney General (PGR) as well as 10 Panther AS 565MBe helicopters, two EC-225 helicopters, seven UH -60M helicopters and the handover of 10 Swiss helicopters and one Agusta AW109SP by the PGR or the General Staff of the President.

Using the equipment programs for surface units and naval facilities, equipment for marine battalions, equipment for amphibious brigades, special forces, HENM and Marine Training Center, accessories for fire and escape equipment were purchased. Five-minute fire fighting and fault control equipment, rescue signal equipment, diving equipment, fuel hoses, ballistic protective equipment, rope, chains, tarpaulins, sewing equipment and supplies, navigational equipment and instruments, sight, shackles, oar cables, skylights, inflatable boat, outboard motors and magnetic marine compasses. With the support of the ammunition program, grenades of various calibers were purchased as detailed.

199 years after the founding of the Marines, SEMAR recalls the major events that led to its creation and states that its history dates back to November 14, 1821. The first battalion of marines was conceived in the United States in 1821 and established in 1823 to protect the Veracruz coast, for which on November 14 the work of naval personnel in the institution is recognized.

The Marine Corps is the Marine Corps of the Mexican Navy, whose main task is to ensure the maritime security of the Mexican coasts and ports against any internal or external threat. To do this job, they are trained and equipped to conduct operations at sea, in the air or on land, the Navy explains, the Secretariat adds. Currently, the Marine Corps represents the first line of defense on the national coast with its amphibious response forces, parachute rifles and special forces displaying SEMAR. (Jorge Alejandro Medelln)

Photographs (SEMAR): Mexican Marines.

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