NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. -- Foreign Military Sales not only build partner capacity, it also strengthens relationships. International partners cite the dependability of the FMS process and the corresponding they receive to maintain capabilities as reasons for seeking U.S. military equipment, material and training. The U.S. Army Security Assistance Command recently made a rapid response to a request for UH-60M parts from Mexico to ensure they sustained the flight capabilities of two of three Blackhawk helicopters (for Mexico's Secretariat of the Navy, or SEMAR) delivered last year through FMS as part of the Merida Initiative.

The Merida Initiative is a program for bilateral security cooperation that provides support to Mexico's new security and judicial institutions, and helps galvanize efforts on the U.S. side of the border to stop the flow of weapons, money and the demand for drugs.

The request for two sets of bearings and steel and titanium screws and matching bolts for the Blackhawks was received on Oct. 19 and the parts were shipped to their designated location on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23, according to Joyce Jenkins, USASAC SOUTHCOM Directorate's Central Case Manager for Mexico. Because there was not an open requisition, Jenkins and her team had to input manual requisitions and work with the Defense Logistics Agency to facilitate the request.

"DLA had the steel screws and bearings. But the titanium parts were not available, so we ultimately had to get these from the primary contractor," Jenkins said.

Jenkins credits Daniel Stephen, her team's supply technician, and DLA with executing the quick turn-around.

"While it was an urgent request, we looked at it as 'If you can try to do it, why not do it,'" Stephen said. "I used the sources I have at DLA, and they expedited the material they had. We had to go the source supply contract for the remainder, but we got everything they needed," he added.

While neither Jenkins nor Stephen view their quick actions as anything other than part of the day-to-day support they provide to more than 15 SOUTHCOM countries, Col. Stephen Smith, USASAC SOUTHCOM Director, stresses the wider impact of the work Jenkins and Stephen are doing.

"What they are doing in their jobs everyday by getting these countries what they need is supporting our COCOMs and the National Security Strategy. And the urgent request for UH-60M parts came from the highest levels of the Mexican Government," Smith stated.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico officials, "The air support delivered from the United States under the Merida Initiative supplements an aggressive Government of Mexico law enforcement strategy backed by investment of resources that serves our shared goals of citizen safety, security, and respect for the rule of law."

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico, in a fact sheet citing major deliveries of the Merida Initiative in 2011, lists the delivery of the three UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters as a factor in the Mexican Government's goal to disrupt the capacity of organized crime to operate. According to the fact sheet, within two days of delivery, these helicopters (SEMAR UH-60Ms) were deployed in a successful flight operation in support of the Mexican Government.

Jenkins and Stephen proved the USASAC's motto, "Strength in Cooperation," to its Mexican partner through their commitment to get the job done, noted Smith.