By Chris Covert
Five days into his administration, Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto has opted not to shake up general staff appointments at his defense ministry, replacing only two top staff positions, according to Mexican news accounts and official government information.
|General Mendez Bazan|
Wednesday, it has been reported without official confirmation, that the head of the army and army operations chief would be the first two changes in the Mexican Secretaria de Defensa Nacional (SEDENA) general staff. Press reports have said that the two appointments may the the only two of SEDENA's general staff appointments.
General Virgilio Mendez Bazan was appointed as head of the Mexican Army, coming from X Military Region in Yucatan state in southern Mexico. He replaces General Carlos Demetrio Gaytan Ochoa. General Martin Cordero Luqueño has been appointed to replace General Mendez Bazan as commander of the X Military Region.
General Mendez Bazan is a 1967 graduate of Mexico's Heroico Colegio Militar military academy and an infantry commander, according to data supplied by SEDENA on its website, and, between 2002 and 2005, has held command in the 22nd Military Zone in Mexico state. He was promoted to general de division in 2009. Like his commander, General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, he is reportedly a friend of Pena Nieto.
The army's new operations chief is General Roble Arturo Granados Gallardo, is a 1972 graduate of Heroico Colegio Militar military academy and an infantry commander who was previously commander of the Mexican 13th Military Zone in Nayarit in western Mexico, a command he held in 2004, according to data supplied by SEDENA. An article which appeared on the website of El Universal news daily, he has held other military zone commands before his elevation to army operations chief.
General Granados Gallardo replaces General Luis Arturo Oliver Cen, a highly experienced former field commander and cavalryman, who was once an aspirant to become head of the army.
Last Tuesday, Pena Nieto attended Artillery Day in Mexico City where in a speech he reiterated his goal of eventually returning the Mexican Army to the barracks, as a means of ending drug war violence which has been a feature of Mexico's struggle against drug cartels and organized crime since 2007.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com