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April 15, 2016

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I could see an argument for organic Mexican air and missile defense (assuming cheap ubiquitous proliferation of drones/missiles). Still why not just join NORAD and integrate with the US/Canadian command structure?

How about "better to have it and not need it than to need it or not have it"? Not that Mexico is likely to fight a conventional war with anyone, but suppose they wanted to participate in a joint military exercise with frex Brazil, or take part in a broadly Latin American naval show-the-flags trip?

Some thoughts:

For example, one traditional argument would be ask if the state has the necessary military capability to curtail an armed revolt supplied by another state level actor (far or near)?

Such a revolt can considered as very very unlikely event in most cases, but not totally impossible, and if the military forces capable to respond don't exist at all, and a need for them suddenly arises, there will not be time to build them. Results could be catastrophic to the state.

However, a functional, if small, armoured force and air force are enough to give a definite upper hand against most insurgents. (The hypothetical state-level actor would need to reconsider their options.) Their existence means that the hypothetical enemy would probably seek other means of action - for example, terrorism. However, mere terrorist attacks aren't enough to establish a rival state-like apparatus claiming a monopoly of violence.

In general, there's a difference between a limited amount of agency and no agency at all, even if residing under the umbrella of hegemony of a nearby great power.
What about if things go unexpectedly south in either of neighbouring countries? What if something goes very wrong regarding the hegemony? Civil war in US? Major, prolonged world war? Environmental catastrophe (we have underestimated the short-term consequences of climate change)?

There is also a difference between winning a war with absolute certainty and there not being a war in the first place: it gives some diplomatic leeway. (And there is also a question of historical record and national identity; consider how the decision by the Baltic countries not put up a fight in 1939 influences more than the politics half a century later and further; their current relationship with Russia can portrayed very differently depending on how willing the public is to believe they joined Soviet Union out of free will.)

Given all that, I don't believe Mexico has a need for a fleet of air superiority fighters. Same goes for armoured forces: MBTs would be overkill.

However, workable armoured vehicles and the necessary artillery and air power to support the infantry formations in most conceivable scenarios one would use ones infantry formations is useful, if one wants to maintain an infantry units in the first place.

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