recommended reading

McCain suggests using military tech on Mexico border

Sen. John McCain says he is more concerned about the security of the border than he has ever been.Ross D. Franklin/AP

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on Thursday the operations of drug cartels along the U.S.-Mexico border are tantamount to war and urged a top military commander to deploy high-tech military systems to monitor activities in the area.

"I can make an argument that we are [engaged] in combat on the border," McCain said during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which was considering the nomination of Vice Adm. James "Sandy" Winnefeld Jr. to head U.S. Northern Command. He called the $65 billion-per-year drug trade in that region, which has resulted in murders on both sides of the border, a "corrosive effect" on life in the Southwest.

McCain has represented Arizona, which shares a 1,400 mile border with Mexico, in the House and Senate since 1982. The senator said he was more concerned about the security of the border than he has ever been, given what he described as irregular warfare operations by drug cartels.

A 58-year-old rancher in southeast Arizona was found shot to death on March 27. Investigators speculated that he was killed by a drug smuggler who had illegally crossed the border.

McCain told Winnefeld the violence justifies a military response, including sending the kind of advanced systems the Defense Department is using in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Mexico border.

U.S. Northern Command, established in 2002 and headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., is responsible for homeland defense. "We have an obligation to protect our borders," McCain said, adding he would like to see military surveillance systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles, used in the region.

Winnefeld said he shared McCain's "deep concerns over the level of violence on the border" and would make a trip to the area with the senator one his first priorities when taking over the command. Winnefeld did not address McCain's request to use the military's computer systems.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.