Unified combatant command

Summary

Unified combatant commands areas of responsibility

A unified combatant command (COCOM), also referred to as a combatant command, is a joint military command of the United States Department of Defense that is composed of units from two or more service branches of the United States Armed Forces, and conducts broad and continuing missions.[1] There are currently 11 unified combatant commands and each are established as the highest echelons of military commands, in order to provide effective command and control of all U.S. military forces, regardless of branch of service, during peace or during war time.[2] Unified combatant commands are organized either on a geographical basis (known as "area of responsibility", AOR) or on a functional basis such as special operations, power projection, or transport. Currently, seven combatant commands are designated as geographical, and four are designated as functional. Unified combatant commands are "joint" commands and have specific badges denoting their affiliation.

The Unified Command Plan (UCP) establishes the missions, command responsibilities, and geographic areas of responsibility of the combatant commands.[3] Each time the Unified Command Plan is updated, the organization of the combatant commands is reviewed for military efficiency and efficacy, as well as alignment with national policy.[4]

Each unified combatant command is led by a combatant commander (CCDR),[5] who is a four-star general or admiral. The combatant commanders are entrusted with a specific type of nontransferable command authority over assigned forces, regardless of branch of service.[6] The chain of command for operational purposes (per the Goldwater–Nichols Act) goes from the president of the United States through the secretary of defense to the combatant commanders.

Command authority

Four types of command authority can be distinguished:[7][8]

  1. COCOM - combatant command: unitary control (not further delegatable by the combatant commander CCDR)
  2. ADCON - administrative control of the command function of "obtaining resources, direction for training, methods of morale and discipline"[7]
  3. OPCON - operational control of a command function say, sustainment. In that case, OPCON is embodied in the Army Field Support Brigades (AFSBs)
  4. TACON - tactical control of say, sustainment, as embodied in a Contracting Support Brigade

List of combatant commands

Geographic areas of responsibility for six land-based geographic combatant commands
Emblem Combatant Command
(Acronym)
Establishment as
a unified command
Headquarters Commander
Portrait Name

Geographic combatant commands

Seal of the United States Africa Command.svg Africa Command
(USAFRICOM)
October 2008[a] Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart,
Germany
Townsend Africom.jpg General
Stephen J. Townsend
USA
Seal of the United States Central Command.png Central Command
(USCENTCOM)
January 1983 MacDill Air Force Base,
Florida
General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr (USCENTCOM).jpg General
Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.
USMC
USEUCOM.svg European Command
(USEUCOM)
August 1952 Patch Barracks, Stuttgart,
Germany
Gen. Tod D. Wolters EUCOM.jpg General
Tod D. Wolters
USAF
INDOPACOM Emblem 2018.png Indo-Pacific Command
(USINDOPACOM)
January 1947 Camp H. M. Smith,
Hawaii
Davidson PACOM.jpg Admiral
Philip S. Davidson
USN
Seal of the United States Northern Command.png Northern Command
(USNORTHCOM)
October 2002 Peterson Air Force Base,
Colorado
Gen Glen D. VanHerck.jpg General
Glen D. VanHerck
USAF
Seal of the United States Southern Command.svg Southern Command
(USSOUTHCOM)
June 1963 Doral,
Florida
Faller Southcom 2.jpg Admiral
Craig S. Faller
USN
United States Space Command emblem 2019.png Space Command
(USSPACECOM)
August 2019[b] Peterson Air Force Base,
Colorado (temporary)[9][10]
Gen. James H. Dickinson.jpg General
James H. Dickinson
USA

Functional combatant commands

Seal of the United States Cyber Command.svg Cyber Command
(USCYBERCOM)
May 2018[c] Fort George G. Meade,
Maryland
General Paul M. Nakasone (NSA).jpg General
Paul M. Nakasone
USA
United States Special Operations Command Insignia.svg Special Operations Command
(USSOCOM)
April 1987 MacDill Air Force Base,
Florida
Clarke USSOCOM.jpg General
Richard D. Clarke
USA
Seal of the United States Strategic Command.svg Strategic Command
(USSTRATCOM)
June 1992 Offutt Air Force Base,
Nebraska
Chas Richard STRATCOM 2019.jpg Admiral
Charles A. Richard
USN
US-TRANSCOM-Emblem.svg Transportation Command
(USTRANSCOM)
July 1987 Scott Air Force Base,
Illinois
Gen. Stephen R. Lyons.jpg General
Stephen R. Lyons
USA

Currently, four geographic combatant commands have their headquarters located outside their geographic area of responsibility.

History

President George W. Bush (sitting third from the right) and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (sitting second from the left) meeting with the joint chiefs and combatant commanders

The current system of unified commands in the U.S. military emerged during World War II with the establishment of geographic theaters of operation composed of forces from multiple service branches that reported to a single commander who was supported by a joint staff.[11] A unified command structure also existed to coordinate British and U.S. military forces operating under the Combined Chiefs of Staff, which was composed of the British Chiefs of Staff Committee and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.[12]

World War II era

In the European Theater, Allied military forces fell under the command of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). After SHAEF was dissolved at the end of the war, the American forces were unified under a single command, the US Forces, European Theater (USFET), commanded by General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower. A truly unified command for the Pacific War proved more difficult to organize as neither General of the Army Douglas MacArthur nor Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was willing to be subordinate to the other, for reasons of interservice rivalry.[13]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff continued to advocate in favor of establishing permanent unified commands, and President Harry S. Truman approved the first plan on 14 December 1946.[14] Known as the "Outline Command Plan," it would become the first in a series of Unified Command Plans.[citation needed] The original "Outline Command Plan" of 1946 established seven unified commands: Far East Command, Pacific Command, Alaskan Command, Northeast Command, the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Caribbean Command, and European Command. However, on 5 August 1947, the CNO recommended instead that CINCLANTFLT be established as a fully unified commander under the broader title of Commander in Chief, Atlantic (CINCLANT). The Army and Air Force objected, and CINCLANTFLT was activated as a unified command on 1 November 1947. A few days later, the CNO renewed his suggestion for the establishment of a unified Atlantic Command. This time his colleagues withdrew their objections, and on 1 December 1947, the U.S. Atlantic Command (LANTCOM) was created under the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (CINCLANT).[15]

Under the original plan, each of the unified commands operated with one of the service chiefs (the Chief of Staff of the Army or Air Force, or the Chief of Naval Operations) serving as an executive agent representing the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[16] This arrangement was formalized on 21 April 1948 as part of a policy paper titled the "Function of the Armed Forces and the Joint Chiefs of Staff" (informally known as the "Key West Agreement").[17] The responsibilities of the unified commands were further expanded on 7 September 1948 when the commanders' authority was extended to include the coordination of the administrative and logistical functions in addition to their combat responsibilities.[18]

Cold War era

Far East Command and U.S. Northeast Command were disestablished under the Unified Command Plan of 1956–1957.

A 1958 "reorganization in National Command Authority relations with the joint commands" with a "direct channel" to unified commands such as Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) was effected after President Dwight Eisenhower expressed concern[specify] about nuclear command and control.[19] CONAD itself was disestablished in 1975.

Although not part of the original plan, the Joint Chiefs of Staff also created specified commands that had broad and continuing missions but were composed of forces from only one service.[20] Examples include the U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean and the U.S. Air Force's Strategic Air Command. Like the unified commands, the specified commands reported directly to the JCS instead of their respective service chiefs.[21] These commands have not existed since the Strategic Air Command was disestablished in 1992. The relevant section of federal law, however, remains unchanged, and the President retains the power to establish a new specified command.[22]

The Goldwater–Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 clarified and codified responsibilities that commanders-in-chief (CINCs) undertook, and which were first given legal status in 1947. After that act, CINCs reported directly to the United States Secretary of Defense, and through him to the President of the United States.

Post Soviet era

The U.S. Atlantic Command became the Joint Forces Command in the 1990s after the Soviet threat to the North Atlantic had disappeared and the need rose for an integrating and experimentation command for forces in the continental United States. Joint Forces Command was disbanded on 3 August 2011 and its components placed under the Joint Staff and other combatant commands.

On 24 October 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld announced that in accordance with Title 10 of the US Code (USC), the title of "Commander-in-Chief" would thereafter be reserved for the President, consistent with the terms of Article II of the United States Constitution. Thereafter, the military CINCs would be known as "combatant commanders", as heads of the unified combatant commands.

A sixth geographical unified command, United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM), was approved and established in 2007 for Africa. It operated under U.S. European Command as a sub-unified command during its first year, and transitioned to independent Unified Command Status in October 2008. In 2009, it focused on synchronizing hundreds of activities inherited from three regional commands that previously coordinated U.S. military relations in Africa.[23]

President Donald Trump announced on 18 August 2017 that the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) would be elevated to the status of a unified combatant command from a sub-unified command. It was also announced that the separation of the command from the NSA would be considered.[24][25] USCYBERCOM was elevated on 4 May 2018.

Vice President Mike Pence announced on 18 December 2018 that President Donald Trump had issued a memorandum ordering the stand-up of a United States Space Command (USSPACECOM).[26] A previous unified combantant command for unified space operations was decommissioned in 2002. The new USSPACECOM will include "(1) all the general responsibilities of a Unified Combatant Command; (2) the space-related responsibilities previously assigned to the Commander, United States Strategic Command; and (3) the responsibilities of Joint Force Provider and Joint Force Trainer for Space Operations Forces".[27] USSPACECOM was re-established on 29 August 2019.

Combatant commanders

Each combatant command (CCMD, also COCOM) is headed by a four-star general or admiral (the CCDR) recommended by the Secretary of Defense, nominated for appointment by the President of the United States, confirmed by the Senate and commissioned, at the President's order, by the Secretary of Defense. The Goldwater–Nichols Act and its subsequent implementation legislation also resulted in specific Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) requirements for officers before they could attain flag or general officer rank thereby preparing them for duty in Joint assignments such as UCC staff or Joint Chiefs of Staff assignments, which are strictly controlled tour length rotations of duty. However, in the decades following enactment of Goldwater–Nichols, these JPME requirements have yet to come to overall fruition. This is particularly true in the case of senior naval officers, where sea duty / shore duty rotations and the culture of the naval service has often discounted PME and JPME as a measure of professional development for success. Although slowly changing, the JPME requirement still continues to be frequently waived in the case of senior admirals nominated for these positions.[28]

The operational chain of command runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense to the combatant commanders of the combatant commands. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff may transmit communications to the Commanders of the combatant commands from the President and Secretary of Defense and advises both on potential courses of action, but the Chairman does not exercise military command over any combatant forces. Under Goldwater–Nichols, the service chiefs (also four stars in rank) are charged with the responsibility of the "strategic direction, unified operation of combatant commands, and the integration of all land, naval, and air forces in an efficient "unified combatant command" force. Furthermore, the Secretaries of the Military Departments (i.e. Secretary of the Army, Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Air Force) are legally responsible to "organize, train and equip" combatant forces and, as directed by the Secretary of Defense, assign their forces for use by the combatant commands. The Secretaries of the Military Departments thus exercise administrative control (ADCON)[29] rather than operational control (OPCON—the prerogative of the combatant commander) over their forces.

Each combatant command can be led by a general or flag officer from any of the military services.

Sub-unified combatant commands

A sub-unified command, or, subordinate unified command, may be established by combatant commanders when authorized to do so by the Secretary of Defense or the president.[30] They are created to conduct a portion of the mission or tasking of their parent geographic or functional command. Sub-unified commands may be either functional or geographic, and the commanders of sub-unified commands exercise authority similar to that of combatant commanders.

Examples of current and former sub-unified commands are the Alaskan Command (ALCOM) under USNORTHCOM, the United States Forces Korea (USFK) under USINDOPACOM, and United States Forces—Afghanistan (USFOR-A) under USCENTCOM.

UCC area coverage by country

Command Country name Country code[31]
USCENTCOM Afghanistan AF
USEUCOM Albania AL
USAFRICOM Algeria DZ
USEUCOM Andorra AD
USAFRICOM Angola AO
USINDOPACOM Antarctica AQ
USSOUTHCOM Antigua and Barbuda AG
USSOUTHCOM Argentina AR
USEUCOM Armenia AM
USSOUTHCOM Aruba AW
USINDOPACOM Australia AU
USEUCOM Austria AT
USEUCOM Azerbaijan AZ
USNORTHCOM Bahamas BS
USCENTCOM Bahrain BH
USINDOPACOM Bangladesh BD
USSOUTHCOM Barbados BB
USEUCOM Belarus BY
USEUCOM Belgium BE
USSOUTHCOM Belize BZ
USAFRICOM Benin BJ
USNORTHCOM Bermuda BM
USINDOPACOM Bhutan BT
USSOUTHCOM Bolivia BO
USAFRICOM Botswana BW
USEUCOM Bosnia and Herzegovina BA
USSOUTHCOM Brazil BR
USINDOPACOM British Indian Ocean Territory IO
USNORTHCOM British Virgin Islands VG
USINDOPACOM Brunei BN
USEUCOM Bulgaria BG
USAFRICOM Burkina Faso BF
USAFRICOM Burundi BI
USINDOPACOM Cambodia KH
USAFRICOM Cameroon CM
USNORTHCOM Canada CA
USAFRICOM Cape Verde CV
USSOUTHCOM Cayman Islands KY
USAFRICOM Central African Republic CF
USAFRICOM Chad TD
USSOUTHCOM Chile CL
USINDOPACOM China CN
USSOUTHCOM Colombia CO
USAFRICOM Comoros KM
USAFRICOM Congo, Democratic Republic of the CD
USAFRICOM Congo, Republic of the CG
USSOUTHCOM Costa Rica CR
USAFRICOM Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) CI
USEUCOM Croatia HR
USSOUTHCOM Cuba CU
USSOUTHCOM Curaçao CW
USEUCOM Cyprus CY
USEUCOM Czechia (Czech Republic) CZ
USEUCOM Denmark DK
USAFRICOM Djibouti DJ
USSOUTHCOM Dominica DM
USSOUTHCOM Dominican Republic DO
USSOUTHCOM Ecuador EC
USCENTCOM Egypt EG
USSOUTHCOM El Salvador SV
USAFRICOM Equatorial Guinea GQ
USAFRICOM Eritrea ER
USEUCOM Estonia EE
USAFRICOM Ethiopia ET
USINDOPACOM Fiji FJ
USEUCOM Finland FI
USEUCOM France FR
USAFRICOM Gabon GA
USAFRICOM Gambia GM
USEUCOM Georgia GE
USEUCOM Germany DE
USAFRICOM Ghana GH
USEUCOM Greece GR
USSOUTHCOM Grenada GD
USSOUTHCOM Guatemala GT
USAFRICOM Guinea GN
USAFRICOM Guinea-Bissau GW
USSOUTHCOM Guyana GY
USSOUTHCOM Haiti HT
USEUCOM Holy See (Vatican City) VA
USSOUTHCOM Honduras HN
USEUCOM Hungary HU
USEUCOM Iceland IS
USINDOPACOM India IN
USINDOPACOM Indonesia ID
USCENTCOM Iran IR
USCENTCOM Iraq IQ
USEUCOM Ireland IE
USEUCOM Israel IL
USEUCOM Italy IT
USSOUTHCOM Jamaica JM
USINDOPACOM Japan JP
USCENTCOM Jordan JO
USCENTCOM Kazakhstan KZ
USAFRICOM Kenya KE
USINDOPACOM Kiribati KI
USINDOPACOM Korea, Democratic People's Republic of KP
USINDOPACOM Korea, Republic of KR
USEUCOM Kosovo XK
USCENTCOM Kuwait KW
USCENTCOM Kyrgyzstan KG
USINDOPACOM Laos LA
USEUCOM Latvia LV
USCENTCOM Lebanon LB
USAFRICOM Lesotho LS
USAFRICOM Liberia LR
USAFRICOM Libya LY
USEUCOM Liechtenstein LI
USEUCOM Lithuania LT
USEUCOM Luxembourg LU
USAFRICOM Madagascar MG
USAFRICOM Malawi MW
USINDOPACOM Malaysia MY
USINDOPACOM Maldives MV
USAFRICOM Mali ML
USEUCOM Malta MT
USINDOPACOM Marshall Islands MH
USAFRICOM Mauritania MR
USAFRICOM Mauritius MU
USAFRICOM Mayotte YT
USNORTHCOM Mexico MX
USINDOPACOM Micronesia, Federated States of FM
USEUCOM Moldova MD
USEUCOM Monaco MC
USINDOPACOM Mongolia MN
USEUCOM Montenegro ME
USAFRICOM Morocco MA
USAFRICOM Mozambique MZ
USINDOPACOM Myanmar (Burma) MM (BU)
USAFRICOM Namibia NA
USINDOPACOM Nauru NR
USINDOPACOM Nepal NP
USEUCOM Netherlands NL
USINDOPACOM New Zealand NZ
USSOUTHCOM Nicaragua NI
USAFRICOM Niger NE
USAFRICOM Nigeria NG
USEUCOM North Macedonia MK
USEUCOM Norway NO
USCENTCOM Oman OM
USCENTCOM Pakistan PK
USINDOPACOM Palau PW
USSOUTHCOM Panama PA
USINDOPACOM Papua New Guinea PG
USSOUTHCOM Paraguay PY
USSOUTHCOM Peru PE
USINDOPACOM Philippines PH
USEUCOM Poland PL
USEUCOM Portugal PT
USCENTCOM Qatar QA
USAFRICOM Réunion RE
USEUCOM Romania RO
USEUCOM Russia RU
USAFRICOM Rwanda RW
USAFRICOM Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha SH
USSOUTHCOM Saint Kitts and Nevis KN
USSOUTHCOM Saint Lucia LC
USNORTHCOM Saint Pierre and Miquelon PM
USSOUTHCOM Saint Vincent and the Grenadines VC
USINDOPACOM Samoa WS
USEUCOM San Marino SM
USAFRICOM Sao Tome and Principe ST
USCENTCOM Saudi Arabia SA
USAFRICOM Senegal SN
USEUCOM Serbia RS
USAFRICOM Seychelles SC
USAFRICOM Sierra Leone SL
USINDOPACOM Singapore SG
USEUCOM Slovakia SK
USEUCOM Slovenia SI
USINDOPACOM Solomon Islands SB
USAFRICOM Somalia SO
USAFRICOM South Africa ZA
USAFRICOM South Sudan SS
USEUCOM Spain ES
USINDOPACOM Sri Lanka LK
USAFRICOM Sudan SD
USSOUTHCOM Suriname SR
USAFRICOM Swaziland (Eswatini) SZ
USEUCOM Sweden SE
USEUCOM Switzerland CH
USCENTCOM Syria SY
USINDOPACOM Taiwan TW
USCENTCOM Tajikistan TJ
USAFRICOM Tanzania TZ
USINDOPACOM Thailand TH
USINDOPACOM Timor-Leste (East Timor) TL
USAFRICOM Togo TG
USINDOPACOM Tonga TO
USSOUTHCOM Trinidad and Tobago TT
USAFRICOM Tunisia TN
USEUCOM Turkey TR
USCENTCOM Turkmenistan TM
USNORTHCOM Turks and Caicos Islands TC
USINDOPACOM Tuvalu TV
USAFRICOM Uganda UG
USEUCOM Ukraine UA
USCENTCOM United Arab Emirates AE
USEUCOM United Kingdom GB
USINDOPACOM United States (Hawaii) US-HI
USNORTHCOM United States (Mainland and Alaska) US
USSOUTHCOM Uruguay UY
USCENTCOM Uzbekistan UZ
USINDOPACOM Vanuatu VU
USSOUTHCOM Venezuela VE
USINDOPACOM Vietnam VN
USAFRICOM Western Sahara EH
USCENTCOM Yemen YE
USAFRICOM Zambia ZM
USAFRICOM Zimbabwe ZW

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ U.S. Africa Command was established on 1 October 2007 as a sub-unified command under U.S. European Command. It separated from U.S. European Command and was elevated to full unified command status on 1 October 2008.
  2. ^ The first U.S. Space Command was originally established as a unified combatant command in September 1985. It was disestablished in October 2002. The second U.S. Space Command, which is considered separate from the first, was established on 29 August 2019.
  3. ^ U.S. Cyber Command was established on 23 June 2009 as a sub-unified command under U.S. Strategic Command. It separated from U.S. Strategic Command and was elevated to full unified command status on 4 May 2018.

References

  1. ^ Joint Pub 1, p. GL-11.
  2. ^ Story, p. 2
  3. ^ DefenseLINK — Unified Command Plan
  4. ^ Theresa Hitchens (26 Aug 2020) Exclusive: Milley To Sign New Unified Command Plan; Defines SPACECOM’s Roles
  5. ^ Joint Pub 1-02, p. 37.
  6. ^ Joint Pub 1, p. IV-4.
  7. ^ a b Dr. Christopher R. Paparone Army Logistician COCOM, ADCON, OPCON, TACON Support —Do You Know the Difference?
  8. ^ (JP-1) Air Force Doctrine, Annex 3-30 - Command and Control (7 January 2020) APPENDIX A: COMMAND AUTHORITIES AND RELATIONSHIPS
  9. ^ "US Space Command Takes Reins on Space Ops, but Questions Remain". 27 August 2019.
  10. ^ "US Space Command Establishment Ceremony Launches New Era of Space Superiority".
  11. ^ JCS (1985), p. 1
  12. ^ JCS (1977), p. 1
  13. ^ "History of the Unified Command Plan, 1946–1977" (PDF). 20 December 1977. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  14. ^ JCS (1977), p. 2
  15. ^ Joint History Office, History of the Unified Command Plan 1946–1993, pp. 14–15.
  16. ^ JCS (1977), p. 3.
  17. ^ JCS (1977), p. 5.
  18. ^ JCS (1977), p. 6.
  19. ^ Wainstein, L. (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning: Part One (1945–1953) (Report). Institute for Defense Analyses. pp. 1–138. Study S-467.
  20. ^ Naval Advancement
  21. ^ JCS (1977), p. 4
  22. ^ 10 U.S.C. 161
  23. ^ AFRICOM FAQs
  24. ^ "Statement by President Donald J. Trump on the Elevation of Cyber Command". Office of the Press Secretary (Press release). The White House. 18 August 2017. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  25. ^ Trump, Donald (23 August 2017). "Presidential Documents: Memorandum of August 15, 2017: Elevation of U.S. Cyber Command to a Unified Combatant Command" (PDF). Federal Register. U.S. Government Printing Office. 82 (162): 39953–39954. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  26. ^ "Remarks by Vice President Pence at Kennedy Space Center". Office of the White House Press Secretary (Press release). Kennedy Space Center, Florida: The White House. 18 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  27. ^ "Text of a Memorandum from the President to the Secretary of Defense Regarding the Establishment of the United States Space Command". Office of the Press Secretary (Press release). The White House. 18 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  28. ^ Holder & Murray, p. 86.
  29. ^ Redfern, Justin M., Lt. Col.; Cornett, Aaron M., Maj. (5 April 2018). The challenging world of command and support relationships. United States Army (Report). Department of Defense.
  30. ^ Joint Pub 1, p. V-9.
  31. ^ ISO 3166-1 alpha-2

Sources

External links