The Unified Command Plan is a strategic document that establishes the missions, responsibilities, and geographic areas of responsibility for commanders of combatant commands. The UCP is a classified executive branch document prepared by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 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 11 unified combatant commands in the Department of Defense – four functional and seven geographic. Functional combatant commands operate world-wide across geographic boundaries and provide unique capabilities to geographic combatant commands and the armed services, while geographic combatant commands operate in clearly delineated areas of responsibility and have a regional military focus.
GEOGRAPHIC COMBATANT COMMANDS
FUNCTIONAL COMBATANT COMMANDS
CENTCOM’S AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY
CENTCOM’s AOR (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 INDO-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 Air Force Base, 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 home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet. NAVCENT forces in the region normally include 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 30 nations that are responsible for combating terrorism, piracy, illegal drug trafficking, and freedom of navigation and commerce in the region.
U.S. Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT): AFCENT is headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina and has a forward headquarters in Qatar. As the air component of CENTCOM, 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 area of responsibility.
U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command (MARCENT): MARCENT has its headquarters on MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. As the Marine Corps component for CENTCOM, MARCENT is responsible for all Marine Corps forces in the CENTCOM area of responsibility. 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 Air Force Base, 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.