President Felipe Calderon sent Mexico's Congress a package of reforms to the Armed Forces Social Security Law that would "improve the quality of life" of soldiers and their families, legislative officials said.

The administration, which has used the army to spearhead its war on Mexico's drug cartels, proposes increasing military benefits and pensions by up to 59 percent.

The proposal also calls for providing pensions to military widows and improving housing loans for low-paid soldiers.

The improved benefits recognize the "important work done day to day" by the armed forces in "watching over the security of Mexican families," Calderon, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said.

The armed forces have played a critical role in the war on drug traffickers that Calderon launched after taking office in December 2006.

Human rights groups have reported a rise in violations committed by soldiers engaged in the war against Mexico's drug cartels.

Military pensions would rise between 50 percent and 59 percent for soldiers who retire with 20 to 29 years of service, the government said.

Widows and disabled military personnel would qualify for mortgages under the government's proposal.

Minimum pensions for military widows would be set at 10,000 pesos ($847) monthly, with dependent children being automatically enrolled for social security benefits on presentation of a certified birth certificate or judicial order, the government said.

Military personnel would also receive an additional payment of 1,000 pesos ($83) as technical compensation for their service, the government said.

Reforms enacted in 2008 hiked military pay, improved health services and expanded pension benefits for those who retired with 30 or more years of service.

The administration's proposal comes at a time when Mexico is dealing with a wave of drug-related violence that has left about 40,000 dead since late 2006.

A total of 249 soldiers have died during the current administration, but only 101 were killed in action, the Defense Secretariat said earlier this month.