Story by SFC Shelman Spencer on 04/17/2018TUCSON, AZ More than 30 generals and senior leaders from across the Department of Defense; U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) and its subordinate units; Arizona, New Mexico and Texas National Guard along with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol; and Mexico's Secretara de la Defensa Nacional (SEDENA) met for the annual Border Commanders Conference to discuss current trends taking place along the shared border, here, April 3 - 6.
The Border Commanders Conference serves as a venue for commanders from both countries to engage in candid discussions on issues that pertain to the border.
"It's all about building relationships between our two countries - mutual interest that supports one another," said Army Brig. Gen. Laura L. Yeager, commander, Joint Task Force - North.
The conference allows leaders to increase unity of effort and interoperability between the two nations while building on an already strong partnership.
"In my previous assignment in California, with the California National Guard, we worked very closely with SEDENA on the other side of the border and we saw the benefits of that partnership," Yeager said. "Now in my current position, I'm able to take that experience and expand it across the whole southwest border."
Being able to come together in a team effort to discuss issues and concerns is vital to the security of both countries.
"Border security is not only for one entity or one country, said Juventino F. Pacheco, Assistant Chief Patrol Agent, Foreign Operations Branch, Tucson Sector Border Patrol. "We [Border Patrol] not only have the huge responsibility as customs and border protection, we need this to be a team effort with U.S. Army North, Dept. of Defense, Mexico and other agencies. By coming together we are able to exponentially provide security and safety for citizens in Mexico and the U.S."
The majority of the population are unaware of the cooperation among the two governments in the interest of national security for both U.S. and Mexico.
"Our partners on the other side of the border do share our same concerns and they are just as invested as we are," Yeager said. "I think it's interesting the respect that comes from military to military just based on our common values - Soldiers are Soldiers. Even though there's a language barrier, we overcome it because culturally we're so similar."
By coming together in a unity of effort the two militaries and agencies from Dept. of Homeland Defense collaborate on current and future operations for the preservation of life for all people north and south of the U.S - Mexico border.