There are three main components of the Army: a national headquarters, territorial commands, and independent units. The centralized national headquarters in Mexico City has many subordinate regional headquarters. Historically, this has proven to be effective, as the military's main employment has been on domestic missions. Troops are stationed throughout the country to serve as an ongoing presence of authority and to allow for immediate response to crises. This regional dispersion also has facilitated programs of local recruitment for noncommissioned members, allowing them to stay near their families during their service, an important cultural consideration.
Under a modernization program initiated in the late 1970s, the army purchased a significant amount of new equipment, in many cases replacing equipment that dated from the World War II period. The army's inventory of armored vehicles was expanded and updated. The Panhard ERC-90 Lynx six-wheeled reconnaissance car and the Panhard VBL M-11 light armored car were acquired from France. Older designs, such as the German HWK-11 tracked armored personnel carrier (APC), remained in the inventory in 1996 (see table 13, Appendix). Several domestic versions, the DN-3 and DN-5 Caballo and the Mex-1, have been added since the mid-1980s. The M4 Sherman medium tank and several models of light tank transferred by the United States after World War II were retired, leaving Mexico without any tanks in its inventory. Plans for a major expansion of the country's own armament industry, which might have included a domestic tank design, were curtailed as a result of the debt crisis of 1982.
Except for five self-propelled 75mm howitzers, in 1996 the army's artillery consisted mainly of towed 105mm howitzers. The army's principal antitank weapons are French Milan missiles, some of which are mounted on the VBL M-11s. Antiaircraft weapons systems are limited to 12.7mm air defense guns. The army has no units equipped with tactical air defense missiles.
The Mexican Army, with a strength in 2006 of some 144,000, had a wide variety of weapons and equipment in its inventory, much of it procured off-shore but some manufactured by the military owned and operated Fabrica Nacional organization. Among the Army's many and diverse types of equipment were 136 French-built AMX-13 light tanks acquired from Belgium; some 105 armored cars of various makes; roughly 575 armored personnel carriers, mostly French-made, but including a number manufactured locally; about 195 artillery pieces and howitzers; over 1500 medium and heavy mortars, along with limited numbers of anti-tank guns and anti-aircraft missiles; and a wide variety of unarmored troop transporters and logistics vehicles. Much of this equipment is obsolescent or obsolete. The basic infantry weapon is the G3 rifle, made in Mexico.
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