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Pentagon reviewing rules after US soldiers disarmed by Mexican troops on US soil

General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Commander of U.S. Northern Command talks with Area Port Director Michael Humphries while touring the Port of Nogales, Arizona on November 7, 2018. U.S. Army North is deployed to the southwest border under the authority of U.S. Northern Command to support the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Protection's mission to secure the border. (Jerry Glaser/Customs and Border Protection)
April 23, 2019

The Department of Defense will be evaluating its rules on military engagement after two U.S. soldiers allowed themselves to be disarmed by Mexican soldiers who crossed into the U.S.

A senior defense official told the Washington Examiner on Monday that a review of the incident “will help us modify any instructions that we’re giving the troops” in regards to confrontations with the Mexican military near the border.

“This is the first incident that we’re aware of that the two militaries came together,” the official added.

The review comes after reports broke on Saturday that a week prior, two U.S. Army soldiers were temporarily disarmed, detained, and questioned by five or six armed Mexican troops who sped up on the two soldiers before they could call for emergency assistance.

“On April 13, 2019, at approximately 2 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,” U.S. Northern Command told CNN in a statement.

The incident took place inside the U.S. side of the border, although just outside of the fence, a mismatched sector that has some reports calling the incident a “misunderstanding.”

The Mexican troops were wearing only camouflage and had no identifying seals or markers on their uniforms or vehicle to specify their affiliation.  They were armed with FX-05 Xiuhcoatl military rifles and instructed the Army soldiers to stand in front of the vehicle where they were searched and disarmed.

One of the Mexican soldiers removed the Army sergeant’s Beretta M9 service pistol and placed it inside the unmarked CBP vehicle that the soldiers were sitting in.

Officials said the sergeant permitted the Mexican soldier to disarm them “in an attempt to de-escalate a potential volatile situation.”

Although officials said the soldiers “followed all established procedures and protocols,” the incident sparked outrage at the inadequacies surrounding the incident.

“That area of the border is kind of confusing,” a U.S. Northern Command official told the Washington Examiner. “It may have been difficult for them [Mexican forces] to know if they didn’t know the area as well or were new or something. I don’t think — it definitely wasn’t trying to overtake the U.S.”

The incident came as Mexico expressed concern over groups of armed U.S. citizens who were stopping illegal immigrant crossings at the border by their own volition.