The Department of Defense has updated the Unified Command Plan (UCP), a key strategic document that establishes the missions, responsibilities, and geographic areas of responsibility for commanders of combatant commands. Most importantly, UCP 2008, signed by President Bush on Dec. 17, codifies U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) and assigns several new missions to the combatant commanders.
Every two years, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is required by law to review the missions, responsibilities, and geographical boundaries of each combatant command in the U.S. military and recommend to the President, through the secretary of defense, any changes that may be necessary.
As in past years, the 2008 review process included the combatant commanders, service chiefs, and DoD leadership.
Significant changes made by UCP 2008 include:
- Codifying USAFRICOM as a geographic combatant command through assignment of specific missions, responsibilities, and geographic boundaries; the command became fully operation capable Oct. 1, 2008.
- Codifying influenza.
- Updating “cyberspace operations” responsibilities assigned to U.S. Strategic Command.
- Assigning all combatant commanders responsibility for planning and conducting military support to stability, security, transition, and reconstruction operations, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.
- Realigning the USNORTHCOM and U.S. Southern Command areas of responsibility (AOR) by placing the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands in the USNORTHCOM AOR.
The UCP 2008 continues to support the U.S. defense security commitment around the world while improving military responses to the struggle against violent extremists.