Photo: Mexican Navy Special Services
Mexico’s navy has accepted the first woman into the ranks of its special forces, an elite group dedicated to intelligence operations, the fight against criminal cells and anti-terrorism, among other missions, officials said.
“It bears mentioning that, in an unprecedented occurrence, the first woman has graduated from the Mexican navy’s special forces course,” the Navy Secretariat said Friday in a statement, without offering more details.
It added that 12 men also successfully completed the training, “which consists of five phases: induction, parachuting, commando and stress, mountaineering and intervention.”
In 2008, the Mexican armed forces began allowing women to enter areas of the military previously set aside for men, including combat engineering units and the air force.
Tens of thousands of military personnnel and federal police have been deployed to areas plagued by cartel turf battles since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006, a period of time in which nearly 50,000 people have died in drug-related violence.
The navy’s special forces have participated in numerous operations against drug-trafficking and organized crime gangs.
In 2009, they took part in an operation in the central city of Cuernavaca in which powerful drug kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva was killed in a shootout.
The navy’s special forces personnel receive training in urban and jungle combat in extreme climate conditions, anti-terrorist missions, parachuting, camouflage and concealment and weapons-handling, among other tasks, and also are given additional instruction in the United States, Colombia, Israel and France.