United States Central Command

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United States Central Command
The Official CENTCOM Seal
Emblem of the United States Central Command.
Active 1983–present
Country  United States of America
Type Unified Combatant Command
Headquarters MacDill Air Force Base
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Nickname(s) CENTCOM
Engagements Persian Gulf War
Iraq War
War in Afghanistan
Commanders
Combatant Commander General Lloyd Austin, USA
Deputy Commander Vice Admiral Mark Fox, USN [1]
Notable
commanders
General David Petraeus
Admiral William Fallon
General John Abizaid
General Tommy Franks
General Anthony Zinni
General James Mattis
General Norman Schwarzkopf
Insignia
Shoulder sleeve insignia
(US Army only)
Central Command insignia.jpg

The United States Central Command (USCENTCOM or CENTCOM) is a theater-level Unified Combatant Command of the U.S. Department of Defense, established in 1983, taking over the 1980 Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) responsibilities.

The CENTCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) includes countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, most notably Afghanistan and Iraq. CENTCOM has been the main American presence in many military operations, including the Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm, 1991), the War in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom, 2001–2014), and the Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003-2011) . As of 2015 CENTCOM forces are deployed primarily in Afghanistan (Operation Resolute Support, 2015–Present) and Iraq (Operation Inherent Resolve, 2014–present) in supporting and advise and assist roles.

As of 22 March 2013 CENTCOM's commander is General Lloyd J. Austin, U.S. Army.

Of all 6 American regional unified combatant commands CENTCOM is among the three with headquarters outside its area of operations. CENTCOM's main headquarters is located at MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Florida.

History[edit]

United States Central Command (CENTCOM) was established January 1, 1983. As its name implies, CENTCOM covers the "central" area of the globe located between the European and Pacific Commands. When the hostage crisis in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan underlined the need to strengthen U.S. interests in the region, President Jimmy Carter established the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) in March 1980. To provide a stronger, more lasting solution in the region, President Ronald Reagan took steps to transform the RDJTF into a permanent unified command over a two-year period. The first step was to make the RDJTF independent of U.S. Readiness Command, followed by the activation of CENTCOM in January 1983. Overcoming skeptical perceptions that the command was still an RDJTF in all but name, designed to support a Cold War strategy, took time. The Iran-Iraq war clearly underlined the growing tensions in the region, and developments such as Iranian mining operations in the Persian Gulf led to CENTCOM's first combat operations.

By late 1988, the regional strategy still largely focused on the potential threat of a massive Soviet invasion of Iran. The new CENTCOM Commander-in-Chief, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, was convinced that the changing international climate made this scenario far less likely. He began to focus his attention on the possible emergence of a new regional threat—Iraq's Saddam Hussein—and translated these concerns into the summer 1990 command post exercise Internal Look. There was an eerie similarity between the exercise scripts and the real-world movement of Iraqi forces which culminated in Iraq's invasion of Kuwait during the final days of the exercise. U.S. President George Bush responded quickly. A timely deployment of forces and the formation of a coalition deterred Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia, and the command began to focus on the liberation of Kuwait. The buildup of forces continued, reinforced by U.N. Security Council Resolution 678, which called for Iraqi forces to leave Kuwait. On January 17, 1991, U.S. and coalition forces launched Operation Desert Storm with a massive air interdiction campaign, which prepared the theater for a coalition ground assault. The primary coalition objective, the liberation of Kuwait, was achieved on February 27, and the next morning a cease-fire was declared, just one hundred hours after the commencement of the ground campaign.

The end of formal hostilities did not bring the end of difficulties with Iraq. Operation Provide Comfort, implemented to provide humanitarian assistance to the Kurds and enforce a "no-fly"zone in Iraq, north of the 36th parallel, began in April 1991. In August 1992, Operation Southern Watch began in response to Saddam's noncompliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 688 condemning his brutal repression of Iraqi civilians in southeastern Iraq. Under the command and control of Joint Task Force Southwest Asia, coalition forces in this operation enforced a no-fly zone south of the 32nd parallel. In January 1997, Operation Northern Watch replaced Provide Comfort, with a focus on enforcing the northern no-fly zone. Throughout the decade, CENTCOM operations such as Vigilant Warrior, Vigilant Sentinel, Desert Strike, Desert Thunder (I and II), and Desert Fox responded to threats posed by Iraq to its neighbors or sought to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions in the face of Saddam's continued intransigence.

The 1990s also brought significant challenges in the east African nation of Somalia as well as from the growing threat of regional terrorism. To prevent widespread starvation in the face of clan warfare, the command responded in 1992 with Operation Provide Relief to supply humanitarian assistance to Somalia and northeastern Kenya. CENTCOM's Operation Restore Hope supported UNSCR 794 and a multinational Unified Task Force, which provided security until the U.N. created UNOSOM II in May 1993. In spite of some UNOSOM II success in the countryside, the situation in Mogadishu worsened, and a series of violent outbreaks ultimately led President Bill Clinton to order the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Somalia. Throughout the decade following the Gulf War, terrorist attacks had a major impact on CENTCOM forces in the region. Faced with attacks such as the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers, which killed 19 American airmen, the command launched Operation Desert Focus, designed to relocate U.S. installations to more defensible locations (such as Prince Sultan Air Base), reduce the U.S. forward "footprint" by eliminating nonessential billets, and return dependents to the United States. In 1998 terrorists attacked the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 250 persons, including 12 Americans. The October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, resulting in the deaths of 17 U.S. sailors, was linked to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaida organization.

The terrorist attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001 led President George W. Bush to declare a war against international terrorism. CENTCOM soon launched Operation Enduring Freedom to expel the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which was harboring Al Qaida terrorists, hosting terrorist training camps, and repressing the Afghan population.

In the wake of 9-11, the international community found Saddam Hussein’s continued lack of cooperation with United Nation Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions regarding weapons of mass destruction unacceptable. Hussein’s continued recalcitrance led the UNSC to authorize the use of force by a U.S.-led coalition. Operation Iraqi Freedom began 19 March 2003.

Following the defeat of both the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (9 November 2001) and Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq (8 April 2003), CENTCOM has continued to provide security to the new freely-elected governments in those countries, conducting counterinsurgency operations and assisting host nation security forces to provide for their own defense.

Beginning in October 2002, CENTCOM conducted operations in the Horn of Africa to assist host nations there to combat terrorism, establish a secure environment, and foster regional stability. These operations primarily took the form of humanitarian assistance, consequence management, and a variety of civic action programs.

The command has also remained poised to provide disaster relief throughout the region, with its most recent significant relief operations in response to the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan and the large-scale evacuation of American citizens from Lebanon in 2006.

On 1 October 2008, the Department of Defense transferred responsibility for Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, and Somalia to the newly established Africa Command. Egypt, home to Exercise Bright Star, the Department of Defense’s largest reoccurring military exercise, remained in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility.

Structure[edit]

CENTCOM headquarters staff directorates include personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, plans & policy, information systems, training & exercises, and resources, and other functions. The intelligence section is known as Joint Intelligence Center, Central Command, or JICCENT, which serves as a Joint Intelligence Center for the co-ordination of intelligence. Under the intelligence directorate, there are several divisions including the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence.

CENTCOM directs four "service component commands" and one subordinate unified command and no fighting units directly subordinate to it:

The United States Army Central (USARCENT), and the United States Air Forces Central Command (USAFCENT), both headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, the U.S. Marine Forces Central Command (USMARCENT), headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida and the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT), headquartered at Naval Support Activity Bahrain in the Kingdom of Bahrain. MacDill Air Force Base also hosts a Sub-unified command called the Special Operations Command Central (USSOCCENT).[citation needed]

Two major subordinate multi-service commands reporting to Central Command were responsible for Afghanistan: Combined Joint Task Force 180 and Combined Forces Command Afghanistan (CFC-A). CFC-A was disestablished in February 2007.[2] From that point onward, the International Security Assistance Force directed most U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and a U.S. general, General Dan K. McNeill, assumed command of ISAF that same month.[3]

Temporary task forces include the Central Command Forward - Jordan (CF-J), which was announced in April 2013.[4] CF-J's stated purpose was to work with the Jordanian armed forces to improve the latter's capabilities.[4] There was speculation, however, that another reason for its establishment was to serve as a base from which raids into Syria could be launched to seize Syrian WMD if necessary, and as a launch pad for looming American military action in Syria.[5][6][7]

On 1 October 2008 Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti was transferred to United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM).[8] The United States Forces – Iraq or USF-I, was a major subordinate multi-service command during the Iraq War order of battle until it was disestablished in 2011.[citation needed]

Elements of other Unified Combatant Commands, especially United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), operate in the CENTCOM area. It appears that SOCCENT does not direct the secretive Task Force 77, the ad-hoc grouping of Joint Special Operations Command 'black' units such as Delta Force and Army Rangers, which is tasked to pursue the most sensitive high value targets such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban leadership since 11 September 2001. Rather TF 77, which started out as Task Force 11 and has gone through a number of name/number changes, reports directly to Joint Special Operations Command, part of USSOCOM.[citation needed]

War planning[edit]

The following code names are known to have been associated with war planning per William Arkin:[9]:46

  • CENTCOM OPORDER 01-97, Force Protection
  • SOCEUR SUPPLAN 1001-90, 9 May 1989
  • CENTCOM CONPLAN 1010, July 2003
  • CENTCOM CONPLAN 1015-98, possibly support to OPLAN 5027 for Korea, 15 March 1991
  • CENTCOM 1017, 1999
  • CONPLAN 1020
  • CONPLAN 1067, for possible Biological Warfare response
  • CENTCOM CONPLAN 1100-95, 31 March 1992

Globalsecurity.org also lists OPLAN 1002 (Defense of the Arabian Peninsula).[better source needed]

Geographic scope[edit]

CENTCOM Area Of Responsibility

With the 1983 establishment of CENTCOM Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti came within the area of responsibility (AOR). Thus CENTCOM directed the 'Natural Bond' exercises with Sudan, the 'Eastern Wind' exercises with Somalia, and the 'Jade Tiger' exercises with Oman, Somalia, and Sudan. Exercise Jade Tiger involved the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit with Oman from 29 November 82-8 Dec 82.[9]:404

The Area of Responsibility extends to 20 countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uzbekistan, and Yemen. International waters included are the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and western portions of the Indian Ocean.[10][better source needed] Syria and Lebanon were transferred from the United States European Command on 10 March 2004.[citation needed]

Israel is surrounded by CENTCOM countries but remains in United States European Command (EUCOM). General Norman Schwarzkopf expressed the position over Israel frankly in his 1992 autobiography: 'European Command also kept Israel, which from my viewpoint was a help: I'd have had difficulty impressing the Arabs with Central Command's grasp of geopolitical nuance if one of the stops on my itinerary had been Tel Aviv.'[11]:318

On 7 February 2007, plans were announced for the creation of a United States Africa Command which transferred strategic interest responsibility for all of Africa to the new USAFRICOM, except for Egypt. On 1 October 2008, the Africa Command became operational and Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, the primary CENTCOM force on the continent, started reporting to AFRICOM at Stuttgart instead of CENTCOM in Tampa.

The U.S. armed forces use a variable number of base locations depending on its level of operations. With ongoing warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003, the United States Air Force used 35 bases, while in 2006 it used 14, including four in Iraq. The United States Navy maintains one major base and one smaller installation, with extensive deployments afloat and ashore by U.S. Navy, U.S Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard ships, aviation units and ground units.

Commanders[edit]

As of March 2013, GEN Lloyd Austin is commander. He took command from General James Mattis, USMC. Mattis took command from [12][13][14] Lieutenant General John R. Allen, USMC, the deputy commander since July 2008, who took temporary command when the previous commander, General David Petraeus, USA, left to take command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan on 23 June 2010.[15]

No. Image Name Service Start End Time in office
1. General Robert Kingston, official military photo, 1984.JPEG GEN Robert Kingston United States Army 1 January 1983 27 November 1985 1,061 days
2. General George Crist, official military photo, 1985.JPEG Gen George B. Crist United States Marine Corps 27 November 1985 23 November 1988 1,092 days
3. NormanSchwarzkopf.jpg GEN H. Norman Schwarzkopf United States Army 23 November 1988 9 August 1991 989 days
4. Joseph Hoar official military photo.jpg Gen Joseph P. Hoar United States Marine Corps 9 August 1991 5 August 1994 1,092 days
5. General Binford Peay, official military photo, 1991.jpg GEN J. H. Binford Peay III United States Army 5 August 1994 13 August 1997 1,104 days
6. Anthony Zinni.jpg Gen Anthony Zinni United States Marine Corps 13 August 1997 6 July 2000 1,058 days
7. TommyFranks.jpg GEN Tommy Franks United States Army 6 July 2000 7 July 2003 1,096 days
8. John Abizaid.jpg GEN John Abizaid United States Army 7 July 2003 16 March 2007 1,348 days
9. ADM Fallon Portrait.jpg ADM William J. Fallon United States Navy 16 March 2007 28 March 2008 378 days
(Acting) General Martin E. Dempsey.jpg LTG Martin E. Dempsey United States Army 28 March 2008 31 October 2008 217 days
10. GEN David H Petraeus - Uniform Class A.jpg GEN David H. Petraeus United States Army 31 October 2008 30 June 2010 607 days
(Acting) LtGen John R. Allen USMC.jpg LtGen John R. Allen United States Marine Corps 30 June 2010 11 August 2010 42 days
11. Mattis Centcom 2010.jpg Gen James Mattis United States Marine Corps 11 August 2010 22 March 2013 954 days
12. Austin 2013 2.jpg GEN Lloyd Austin United States Army 22 March 2013 Incumbent 894 days

Unit decorations[edit]

The unit awards depicted below are for Headquarters, US Central Command at MacDill AFB. Award for unit decorations do not apply to any subordinate organization such as the service component commands or any other activities unless the orders specifically address them.

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 2 August 1990 – 21 April 1991 Department of the Army General Order (DAGO) 1991-22 & 1992-34[16]
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 1 August 1992 – 4 May 1993 DAGO 1994-12 & 1996-01
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 8 October 1994 – 16 March 1995 DAGO 2001–25
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 1 September 1996 – 6 January 1997 Joint Staff Permanent Order (JSPO) J-ISO-0012-97
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 1 October 1997 – 15 July 1998 JSPO J-ISO-0241-98
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 16 July 1998 – 1 November 1999 JSPO J-ISO-0330-99 / DAGO 2001–25
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 2 November 1999 – 15 March 2001
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 11 September 2001 – 1 May 2003 DAGO 2005–09
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 2 May 2003 – 31 December 2005
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 1 January 2006 – 1 March 2008 JSPO J-ISO-0061-08
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 2 March 2008 – 1 July 2010
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award 2 July 2010 – 31 July 2012

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.centcom.mil/en/about-centcom-en/leadership-en
  2. ^ Jan Goldman Ph.D., The War on Terror Encyclopedia: From the Rise of Al-Qaeda to 9/11 and Beyond, 100-101.
  3. ^ Auerswald and Saideman, 2014, 96f
  4. ^ a b Parrish, Karen (15 August 2013). "Dempsey Visits U.S. Troops Serving in Jordan". American Forces Press Service. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Nasser, Nicola (12 September 2013). "Amman's shaky claims to neutrality". Al-Ahram. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  6. ^ Shanker, Thom (15 August 2013). "With Eyes on Syria, U.S. Turns Warehouse Into Support Hub for Jordan". nytimes.com. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  7. ^ McMorris-Santoro, Evan (31 August 2013). "Obama: I Have Decided To Bomb Syria, But I Want Congress To Weigh In First". buzzfeed.com. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "Africans Fear Hidden U.S. Agenda in New Approach to Africom". Associated Press. 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  9. ^ a b Arkin, William (25 January 2005). Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs and Operations in the 9/11 World (First ed.). Steerforth. ISBN 1586420836. 
  10. ^ "Central Command". Global Security.org. n.d. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  11. ^ Norman Schwarzkopf (1993). It Doesn't Take a Hero. Bantam Books paperback edition. pp. 331–2,335–6. ISBN 0-553-56338-6. Harold Coyle's novel Sword Point gives an impression of what such planning envisaged, by a U.S. Army officer who would have had some idea of the general planning approach.
  12. ^ "Mattis takes over Central Command, vows to work with Mideast allies in Afghanistan, Iraq". Fox News Channel. Associated Press. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2012. 
  13. ^ Mitchell, Robbyn (12 August 2010). "Mattis takes over as CentCom chief". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  14. ^ "Mattis assumes command of CENTCOM". U.S. Central Command. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  15. ^ "Lt. Gen. Allen named CENTCOM acting commander" (Press release). U.S. Central Command. 30 June 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010. 
  16. ^ "Department of the Army General Orders". United States Army Publications Directorate. Retrieved 30 April 2011.  (Army Knowledge Online account may be required.)

External links[edit]