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Unified Commands, CENTCOM & Components
The Unified Command Plan (UCP) is a strategic document that establishes the missions, responsibilities, and geographic areas of responsibility (AORs) for commanders of combatant commands (COCOMs). The UCP is a classified executive branch document prepared by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS). The CJCS normally reviews the UCP every two years and makes recommendations to the President, through the Secretary of Defense, on changes that may be necessary.
There are currently nine unified combatant commands in the Department of Defense – three functional and six geographic. Functional COCOMs operate world-wide across geographic boundaries and provide unique capabilities to geographic COCOMs and the Armed Services, while geographic COCOMs operate in clearly delineated areas of operation and have a regional military focus.
GEOGRAPHIC COMBATANT COMMANDS
CENTCOM: U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida
U.S. Africa Command, Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany
U.S. European Command, Patch Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany
U.S. Northern Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
U.S. IndoPacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii
U.S. Southern Command, Miami, Florida
FUNCTIONAL COMBATANT COMMANDS
U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida
U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
CENTCOM’S AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY
covers 20 nations in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and the strategic waterways that surround them. Prior to the 2008 UCP, CENTCOM had seven African nations in its AOR. When AFRICOM was established, all but Egypt were transferred from CENTCOM to AFRICOM. Nations in the CENTCOM AOR share borders with nations in the AFRICOM, EUCOM and PACOM AORs.
Like all combatant commands, CENTCOM constitutes a headquarters element without any military units permanently assigned to it. CENTCOM operates with Component Commands - one for each of the U.S. armed services, along with a joint special operations component and a number of subordinate joint task forces. A list and short description of each Component Command is provided below:
U.S. Army Central (ARCENT):
ARCENT is headquartered at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, and has a forward headquarters in Kuwait. Resident in the Middle East for more than 20 years, ARCENT is resourced, postured, and prepared to prevent conflict, preserve stability, shape the area to the benefit of the U.S., and successfully negotiate future contingencies. ARCENT, in addition to being CENTCOM’s U.S. Army component, also serves as the Coalition Forces Land Component Command.
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT):
NAVCENT has its headquarters in Manama, Bahrain, the homeport of the U.S. Fifth Fleet. NAVCENT forces in the region normally include a Carrier Strike Group, an Expeditionary Strike Group and standing maritime forces tailored to regional missions. NAVCENT also serves as the command element for the Combined Maritime Forces, which is composed of naval forces from about thirty nations that are responsible for combating terrorism, piracy, and illegal drug trafficking in the region.
U.S. Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT):
AFCENT is headquartered at Shaw AFB, South Carolina and has a forward headquarters in Qatar. As the air component of U.S. Central Command, AFCENT is responsible for air operations, either unilaterally or in concert with coalition partners, and for developing contingency plans in support of national objectives for CENTCOM’s 20-nation AOR in Southwest Asia.
U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command (MARCENT):
MARCENT has its headquarters on MacDill AFB, Florida. As the Marine Corps component for CENTCOM, MARCENT is responsible for all Marine Corps forces in the CENTCOM AOR. MARCENT provides Marine expeditionary forces capable of conducting a wide range of operations, offering the command a responsive and unique set of capabilities.
U.S. Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT):
SOCCENT is headquartered at MacDill AFB, Florida and maintains a forward headquarters in Qatar. SOCCENT employs Special Operations capabilities in partnership with U.S. government agencies, regional security forces, and CENTCOM component forces to enable and support the goals and objectives of CENTCOM.