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Release No: 066-96
February 07, 1996


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

The Unified Command Plan provides guidance to all unified combatant commanders; establishes their missions, responsibilities, and force structure; delineates the general geographic area of responsibility for geographic combatant commanders (see Map 1), and specifies functional responsibilities for functional commanders.

The changes are as follows:

· The boundary between the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command was adjusted to assign responsibility for the Arabian Sea and part of the Indian Ocean to Central Command (see Map 2). This shift moves the boundary away from choke points and provides Central Command the air, land, and sea battlespace it needs to conduct joint operations and training.

· The geographic area of responsibility assigned to the U.S. Southern Command is being expanded by adding the waters adjoining Central and South America, and the Gulf of Mexico. These waters were formerly the responsibility of the U.S. Atlantic Command. This change satisfies two key objectives. The first is to enhance Southern Command's interaction with the navies of Central and South American nations. The second is to have one commander control all U.S. military activities in the Caribbean basin and Central and South America. Due to the long-standing Caribbean associations of U.S. Atlantic Command, including the ongoing United Nations operation in Haiti and counterdrug operations throughout the region, the transfer will occur in two stages (see Map 3). Phase I, implemented on January 1, transfers responsibility for the waters adjoining Central and South America. Phase II, to be implemented on order of the Secretary of Defense not earlier that June 1, 1997, will transfer responsibility for an additional portion of the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and its island nations, and the Gulf of Mexico. · U.S. Strategic Command's reconnaissance responsibilities were also revised. The new UCP assigns to Strategic Command the mission of conducting worldwide airborne reconnaissance in support of strategic operations, the Single Integrated Operation Plan (SIOP), or other strategic missions, as directed.

By law (Title 10, Section 161), the UCP is reviewed periodically by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The review just concluded began in February 1995. The Chairman's recommendations were sent to the Secretary of Defense for his review and forwarding to the President. President Clinton approved the revised UCP December 28. The majority of the changes became effective January 1.

The UCP structure has evolved since the end of 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.

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