United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Release

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

News Release


Release No: 470-99
October 07, 1999


Secretary of Defense William Cohen today announced changes to the Unified Command Plan (UCP) that allocates responsibility among the nation's nine combatant commands.

The UCP provides guidance to all unified combatant commands; establishes their missions, responsibilities, and force structure; delineates the general geographic area of responsibility for geographic combatant commanders (see attached map), and specifies responsibilities for functional commanders.

The revised UCP includes changes that accomplish the following:

Identifies the United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) as successor to United States Atlantic Command (USACOM), with a mandate to accelerate opportunities for forces to gain joint warfighting training and experience, leverage lessons learned in real and training scenarios, and recommend changes to joint doctrine that improve the warfighting capability of the armed forces.

Assigns USJFCOM the mission of providing military assistance to civil authorities for consequence management of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incidents within the continental United States, its territories and possessions. To fulfill that mission a standing Joint Task Force for Civil Support, under USJFCOM, will plan for and integrate the Defense Department's support to the lead federal agency for consequence management during a WMD incident. The Joint Task Force for Civil Support will be commanded by a two-star general officer, from the reserve component, with a small headquarters staff of approximately 36 military and civilian personnel.

Assigns the military lead for computer network defense to United States Space Command.

Transfers selected water areas around Africa and Europe from USACOM and United States Pacific Command to United States European Command.

Clarifies the command responsibilities for commanders-in-chief, including theater engagement planning responsibilities.

The 1999 UCP also includes a non-binding classified enclosure, "UCP 21 Vision," that outlines a flexible and evolutionary path for future UCP review cycles to accommodate national security interests in the anticipated threat environment.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff continuously reviews the missions, responsibilities, and force structure of each combatant command. At least every two years, this assessment is formalized and any recommendations forwarded through the secretary of defense to the president. The chairman's most recent recommendations were sent to Cohen for his review and forwarded to the president in September 1999. President Clinton approved the revised UCP on Sept. 29. The majority of the changes are effective immediately.

The UCP structure has evolved since the end of the World War II in response to changes in strategic requirements and to direction by Congress, notably the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986.

The Unified Command Plan is a classified document and therefore, no additional details are available.

Additional Links

Stay Connected