United States Central Command
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The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) is a theater-level Unified Combatant Command unit of the U.S. armed forces, established in 1983 under the operational control of the U.S. Secretary of Defense. It was originally conceived of as the Rapid Deployment Forces.
Its area of jurisdiction is in the Middle East, East Africa and Central Asia. CENTCOM has been the main American presence in many military operations, including the Persian Gulf War, the United States war in Afghanistan, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Forces from CENTCOM currently are deployed primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan in combat roles and have bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan, Djibouti and central Asia in support roles. CENTCOM forces have also been deployed in Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia in the past, although no substantial forces are based in those countries as of 2005.
CENTCOM's commander is General John Abizaid, who took command on July 7, 2003, replacing General Tommy Franks. His chief of staff is Major General Lloyd J. Austin III. Vice Admiral David C. Nichols is the Deputy Commanding General. Major General Michael Scaparrotti is the director of operations.
Of the five American regional unified commands, CENTCOM is one of the two whose headquarters are not within its area of operations. It is at MacDill AFB, in Tampa, Florida, although a forward headquarters has relatively recently been established at Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar. (The other such regional unified command is U.S. Southern Command, currently based in Miami, Florida.)
No fighting units are directly subordinate to this command; rather, the five subordinate service component commands are:
- U.S. Army Forces Central Command (ARCENT)
- U.S. Central Command Air Forces (USCENTAF)
- U.S. Marine Forces Central Command (USMARCENT)
- U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT)
- United States Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT)
There are major subordinate multiservice commands reporting to Central Command which are conducting operations in various areas:
- Multinational Force Iraq, including Multinational Corps Iraq and Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq (MNSTC-I),
(see also Iraq War order of battle)
- Combined Forces Command Afghanistan
- Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa
- Joint Task Force Lebanon
 Geographic scope
The formal Area of Responsibility (AOR) extends to 27 countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, 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. Syria and Lebanon are the most recent addition, having been transferred from the United States European Command on March 10, 2004. Israel, which is now surrounded by CENTCOM countries remains in EUCOM, "because it is more politically, militarily and culturally aligned with Europe," according to American military officials.
Major US troop presence in the region dates to the 1990 Invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Operation Desert Shield, which transferred hundreds of thousands of bases to Saudi Arabia. Islamists objected to the presence of non-Muslim troops in Saudi Arabia, and their use in Operation Desert Storm and other attacks on Iraq became a key rallying cry for opposition movements in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. By the late 1990s, a gradual move to other countries was underway, particularly Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the UAE.
The military uses a variable number of base locations depending on its level of operations. With warfare ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003, the United States Air Force used 36 bases, while in 2006 it uses 14 today, including four in Iraq.
The Washington Post has reported that long term plans for basing in the region include continued use of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman and the creation of two new storage hubs in "a classified Middle Eastern country "west" of Saudi Arabia ('Site 23')" and in a state in Central Asia.
 List of CENTCOM commanders
|Robert C. Kingston||January 1, 1983||November 27, 1985|
|George B. Crist||November 27, 1985||November 23, 1988|
|H. Norman Schwarzkopf||November 23, 1988||August 9, 1991|
|Joseph P. Hoar||August 9, 1991||August 5, 1994|
|J.H. Binford Peay III||August 5, 1994||August 13, 1997|
|Anthony Zinni||August 13, 1997||July 6, 2000|
|Tommy Franks||July 6, 2000||July 7, 2003|
|John Abizaid||July 7, 2003||present|
 External links
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|US Northern Command - US Central Command - US European Command - US Pacific Command - US Southern Command|
|US Special Operations Command - US Joint Forces Command - US Strategic Command - US Transportation Command - US Unified Medical Command|