The U.S. CENTCOM area of responsibility (AOR) spans more than 4 million square miles and is populated by more than 560 million people from 25 ethnic groups, speaking 20 languages with hundreds of dialects and confessing multiple religions which transect national borders. The demographics in the AOR create opportunities for tension and rivalry.
The geography of the region consists of the intersection of three continents and globally vital commercial sea lanes, flight corridors, pipelines and overland routes. The 21 nations of the AOR, which stretches from Northeast Africa across the Middle East to Central and South Asia, have forms of governance ranging across the political spectrum, including emerging democracies, hereditary monarchies, autocracies, and Islamist theocratic regimes.
The central region is among the least secure and stable places of the world. Adversarial relationships among neighboring states, widespread ethnic and sectarian struggles, malign influence and destabilizing activities, cyber-based threats, and growing arsenals of sophisticated conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction all combine to imperil enduring U.S. vital national interests, as well as those of our trusted partners and allies.