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Encyclopedia > CENTCOM
Emblem of the United States Central Command.

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.

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 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, Qatar, the Oman, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia in the past, although no substantial forces are based in those countries as of 2004.

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 R. Steven Whitcomb. Lieutenant General Lance L. Smith is the Deputy Commanding General.

Unlike many of the other American unified commands, CENTCOM's headquarters is not within its area of operations. It is at MacDill AFB, in Tampa, Florida, although a forward headquarters has relatively recently been established at Al Udeid airbase in Qatar.


No fighting units are directly subordinate to this command; rather, the five sub-units are:

  • U.S. Army Forces Central Command
  • U.S. Central Command Air Forces
  • U.S. Marine Forces Central Command
  • U.S. Naval Forces Central Command
  • Special Operations Command, Central

(or, respectively: ARCENT, CENTAF, MARCENT, NAVCENT, and SOCCENT).

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

  Results from FactBites:
Central Command, United States: CENTCOM (568 words)
Even after Desert Storm, CENTCOM remained in charge of Operations Southern Watch and Provide Comfort which were to enforce UN sanctions on Iraq and was part of the international response to Iraqi non-compliance with Security Council Resolution 688 which condemned Saddam Hussein's repression of Iraqi civilians.
In August 1992 CENTCOM oversaw Operation Provide Relief which was the airlift of aid to the starving people of Somalia, a country that had no central government and which was racked by civil war.
CENTCOM has faced a number of terrorist attacks against its personnel (such as the June 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Dhahran) and increasing intransigence from Iraq which was countered in Operations Desert Thunder (February 1998) and Desert Fox (December 1998).
  More results at FactBites »



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