4,933 trainees from Mexico? Or 5?

Latin America and the Caribbean

How many Mexican military and police personnel did the United States train in 2009? The answer varies very widely, depending on which official U.S. government source you consult.

Last May, a report from Republican staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee [PDF] reproduced an entire State Department document about the status of aid deliveries to Mexico. This document showed that the U.S. Embassy’s Narcotics Affairs Section alone, spending funds from the State Department’s International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) program, trained 4,933 Mexican personnel in 2009.

Table from State Department doc

But then last month the State Department produced its annual Foreign Military Training Report for 2009. In this report, required by Section 656 of the Foreign Assistance Act, the State Department must provide a full accounting of all foreign personnel trained in the past year.

The 4,933 Mexicans don’t appear in this report.

Instead, it shows only 5 Mexican personnel trained by the INCLE program, and 709 overall.

Table from FMTR

This massive discrepancy calls into question the reliability of State Department reporting, and whether congressional oversight personnel are getting the information that they requested when they put the Foreign Military Training Report into law.

It also calls into question the accuracy of the training data that we present on this website, since we rely heavily on this report. We’re left wondering what else we’re missing. Even as we await data for 2010 (the report for last year is now overdue, as the law requires State to submit it to Congress every January 31), we certainly can't say with confidence how many Mexicans received U.S. training in 2009.