Two U.S. soldiers had a tense confrontation with armed Mexican troops while conducting surveillance at the border earlier this month, a report notes.
The incident reportedly happened on the U.S. side of the border just north of the Rio Grande, with the Mexican troops confronting and questioning the American soldiers as they conducted border support operations in an unmarked Customs and Border Protection vehicle. As CNN noted, the Mexican soldiers drew assault rifles at the U.S. troops and removed a soldier’s sidearm during the confrontation.
A spokesperson for U.S. Northern Command told CNN that the American soldiers followed protocol to de-escalate the situation, which took place in an area where it was easy to mistake the American side of the border for the Mexican side. The spokesperson said that one of the U.S. soldiers spoke Spanish and was able to discuss the incident with the Mexican troops to relieve the confusion.
The report noted that the ambiguity of the location led the Mexican troops to believe that the U.S. soldiers had crossed into the Mexican side of the border.
“An inquiry by (Customs and Border Patrol) and (the Department of Defense) revealed that the Mexican military members believed that the US Army soldiers were south of the border,” Northern Command said. “Though they were south of the border fence, US soldiers remained in US territory, north of the actual border.”
The U.S. soldiers were part of a deployment ordered by President Donald Trump to address a rise in border crossings. The U.S. troops serve in a support capacity for Border Patrol, helping to put up fencing and conducting surveillance operations. Troops are not permitted to serve in a law enforcement capacity and do not detain migrants.
More troops are likely headed to the border, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said on Friday. As CNN reported, Shanahan noted that the Pentagon had not yet received a formal request for an increase in troops at the Mexican order, but said his department will be increasing support. Trump had said earlier in the week that he would have to “call up more military” to the border.
Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border over the increase in immigration, using the declaration to reallocate money in an attempt to begin building a border wall. Critics say Trump has engineered a crisis at the border by closing legal entry points, forcing migrants to make more dangerous crossings, often in desolate areas.