For tens of thousands of U.S. Marines in Southern California, new orders from the brass amount to: Baghdad si, Tijuana no.
Citing a wave of violence and murder in Mexico, the commanding officer of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton has made the popular military “R&R” destinations of Tijuana and nearby beaches effectively off-limits for his Marines.
By William Welch
The order by Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland restricts travel into Mexico by the 44,000 members of the unit, many of whom have had multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat zones under their belts — or are there now.
The limits were first put in place for the Christmas holiday. Last week the commander extended the order indefinitely, said Mike Alvarez, civilian public information officer for the unit at Camp Pendleton.
“The situation in Mexico is now more dangerous than usual,” he said. “The intent is just to look out for the Marines’ safety and well-being.”
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President-elect Barack Obama meets with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, January 12, 2009.(Larry Downing/Reuters)
Indiscriminate kidnappings. Nearly daily beheadings. Gangs that mock and kill government agents.
This isn’t Iraq or . It’s , which the U.S. government and a growing number of experts say is becoming one of the world’s biggest security risks.