The U.S. military confirmed Wednesday there is a Defense Department inquiry into an incident in which two U.S. soldiers were detained by Mexican troops on U.S. soil earlier this month.
“I can confirm an inquiry into the incident is ongoing and any changes to how we are currently operating may come as a result of that inquiry,” said Northern Command (Northcom) spokesman Maj. Mark Lazane.
The incident has caught the attention of President Trump, who tweeted on Wednesday, “Mexico’s Soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard soldiers, probably as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the Border. Better not happen again! We are now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border. Mexico is not doing nearly enough in apprehending & returning!”
According to a Northcom statement, on April 13 at approximately 2:00 p.m. CDT, five to six Mexican military personnel questioned two U.S. Army soldiers who were conducting “border support operations” in an unmarked Customs and Border Protection vehicle near the southwest border in the vicinity of Clint, Texas.
A CBP and Department of Defense inquiry found that the Mexican military members believed that the U.S. soldiers were in Mexican territory. However, despite being south of a border fence, the U.S. soldiers were “appropriately in U.S. territory” — north of the actual border, Northcom said.
Northcom said after a brief discussion between the soldiers from both nations, the Mexican military members departed the area, and the U.S. soldiers immediately contacted CBP, who “responded quickly.”
“Throughout the incident, the U.S. soldiers followed all established procedures and protocols,” Northcom said.
However, according to a defense official and a Newsweek report, the incident was more tense than the statement portrays.
The members of the Mexican military were armed with assault rifles, according to Newsweek. They crossed over the Rio Grande into the U.S., “swiftly approached” the U.S. soldiers, and ordered them out of their unmarked Chevrolet Tahoe at gunpoint.
The U.S. soldiers — a sergeant and private — did not have enough time to call 911 on their emergency beacon, the report said. The soldiers were told to movd to the front of their vehicle and “gently searched.” The sergeant’s service pistol, a Beretta M9, was removed from his hip by the soldiers, and thrown inside the U.S. government vehicle.
A U.S. defense official confirmed to Breitbart News that the soldiers were “involuntarily disarmed.”
According to Newsweek, after the Mexican troops departed, the soldiers notified CBP, which then sent agents to their location approximately ten to 12 minutes after the incident. The agents then determined the Mexican military members entered U.S. territory about 50 feet north of the Rio Grande.
The U.S. military has about 5,000 troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border. The deployments began last fall, in advance of at least one large convoy of migrants headed from Central America to the U.S. border. Most of the troops are unarmed, although there are some U.S. troops who are tasked with force protection who are armed.
The troops are deployed in support of the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol, and do not deal with migrants directly.
When asked about Trump’s tweet, the Pentagon referred questions to the White House. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters during a gaggle in front of the White House that the president “may” send more soldiers to the border.
“He may. He may….The president is just making clear as he always has that he has many different actions at his disposal to try to stop this humanitarian crisis,” she said.