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Meeting the Challenge in the Central Command
Prepared statement of Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, USA, commander in chief, U.S. Central Command, the Senate Armed Services Committee, Tuesday, February 14, 1995

In October 1994 Saddam Hussein again threatened the fragile stability in the Arabian Gulf. Iraq's buildup of forces along Kuwait's border exhibited a willingness and ability to threaten its neighbors and to jeopardize access to the oil that is the lifeblood of the industrialized world. The strong, rapid U.S. response during Operation Vigilant Warrior demonstrated our military capability, likely averted another war in the gulf and highlighted the importance we attach to this vital and volatile region.

Operation Vigilant Warrior was a resounding success for several reasons. First, the decisive response of our National Command Authorities, backed by the overwhelming support of Congress and the American people, sent an unmistakable message of resolve. Second, the superb performance of our trained and ready forces, both forward deployed and moving on short notice from the U.S. or standing alert, provided a clear and convincing demonstration of America's military power. Finally, it validated the importance and criticality of the enhancements to our forward-presence posture and the increase in pre-positioned equipment in the gulf region since Desert Storm.

At the onset of the crisis U.S. CENTCOM relied on forward-deployed Navy and Air Force units, Marines, special operations forces and Patriot missile batteries along with regional and allied forces to make clear our resolve to defend against Iraqi aggression. Within days these forces were joined by the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, additional cruise missile ships, reinforcing Air Force squadrons and two Army brigades. Meanwhile additional U.S. forces were deploying or standing by for further orders.

This vivid demonstration of American military capability and resolve in the face of a very real Iraqi threat forced Saddam Hussein to back down and defused the crisis. Perhaps equally important, U.S. resolve and our rapid and decisive response to a threat in the Central Region sent a clear message to other potential aggressors who might be tempted to challenge U.S. interests.

Today our forward-deployed forces are actively engaged in the execution of U.S. policy throughout the Central Region. In the North Arabian Gulf maritime intercept operations enforce U.N. sanctions prohibiting certain trade with Iraq. In 1994 our ships conducted the vast majority of MIO boardings, which have now totaled nearly 10,000 since the operation began in 1990. Also in the gulf region, Operation Southern Watch aircraft have flown over 58,000 sorties, 38,000 of them over Iraq since the creation of that task force in 1992. Finally, we currently have over 4,000 personnel participating in Operation United Shield in support of the withdrawal of U.N. forces from Somalia.

Despite our success during Operation Vigilant Warrior and these other ongoing operations, numerous threats to regional stability remain. The traditional Persian/Arabic rivalry for dominance in the gulf region continues between Iran and Iraq as they vie for influence with their neighbors. Population growth and worsening oil-based economies will lead many nations to greater reliance on outside assistance, despite the vulnerability to influence and manipulation that it brings. Famine in Africa will likely again require massive international efforts to curtail widespread starvation. Tensions over water rights and disputed borders will also continue. However, the single greatest threat to stability in the region is proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the associated spread of ballistic missile technology.

Pivotal to U.S. CENTCOM's ability to respond to these regional threats has been your support for several key programs. Some of the most critical ones that require your continued support are highlighted here. They include pre-positioning, strategic lift, theater missile defense, International Military Education and Training and foreign military financing, and improvements in command, control, communications, computers and intelligence infrastructure.

Foremost among the programs critical to our mission is the pre-positioning of equipment in the region, which allows us to quickly link up personnel with equipment in theater. Having completed the fielding of a brigade set of equipment in Kuwait, we must now press forward to establish a second brigade set with a division base in Southwest Asia. This second set of equipment will dramatically increase our military capability in the region, adding flexibility and the requisite firepower and command and control in the early phases of a military operation. We need your support for the MILCON [military construction] to house this equipment. Similarly, we should continue to pursue the pre-positioning of a third set of equipment in the region, which will provide us with a heavy division's worth of equipment pre-positioned forward.

This presence will serve as a clear signal of American resolve to contain potential adversaries and will greatly enhance our war-fighting capability. Land basing promotes access, stability and coalition solidarity in the region.

Of comparable importance, strategic lift is essential to the successful implementation of our strategy. It is the critical lifeline for the Central Command and vital to the success of our operations. At over 7,000 air miles and 8,000 sea miles, the extraordinary distances from the U.S. amplify the immense difficulties of moving a force in response to a regional crisis or contingency. As has again been demonstrated during recent operations in the gulf region and in Somalia, strategic lift must remain a high priority.

Operation Vigilant Warrior saw the first operational use of both the C-17 and the Army Pre-positioning Afloat, and both programs met our expectations. Your continued support of the C-17, fast sealift ships and the RO/RO [Roll-on, Roll-off] upgrade to the Army pre-positioned equipment afloat is vital to our ability to close forces quickly in the theater. Although not tested during Vigilant Warrior, our Ready Reserve Fleet must not be allowed to slip back into the questionable readiness posture of the pre-Desert Shield/Storm days.

The continued proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, combined with the relative ease with which potential adversaries can enhance armaments through purchases of off-the shelf technology, calls for enhanced theater missile defenses and space-based capabilities that will protect U.S. forces, support our strategy and facilitate war-fighting. The priority over the next 10 years should be to establish a multilayered missile defense founded on the lower-tier Patriot Advanced Capability III, with a variant for naval defense; upper-tier Theater High Altitude Area Defense; and highly mobile point defense Corps SAM [Surface-to-Air Missile] to protect ground forces maneuvering rapidly over extended distances.

We must also devote resources to detecting unmanned aerial vehicles as well as cruise and short-range missiles; to enriching the missile tracking capability of our satellite program to provide rapid, highly accurate flight data on enemy missile launches; to expanding our acquisition of theater-based capabilities to directly downlink satellite data for intelligence and rapidly transmitting it to subordinate units; to broadening our satellite communications architecture to ensure that it meets future demands; and to fielding interoperable systems that support joint and combined operations. Your support for these initiatives is essential to their achievement.

Over the years the United States has profited greatly from investments made in the International Military Education and Training program and Foreign Military Financing. Both of these activities have provided the U.S. government opportunities throughout the world and in particular within the Central Region to assist in the development of foreign militaries, gain access, deter conflict and promote stability and democratic ideals.

Both of these programs have suffered from reduced funding over the last few years. We strongly encourage a reconsideration of these programs and increasing funds to assist our friends, enhance access, facilitate implementation of our theater strategy and realize U.S. goals for the region. By promoting respect for human rights, civilian control of the military and democratic ideals, while enhancing self-defense capabilities we decrease the chances of a conflict today and tomorrow that might result in the commitment of U.S. forces abroad.

The limited infrastructure in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility, combined with the fact that our headquarters is located in the CONUS [continental United States, create significant C4I [command, control, communication, computers and intelligence] challenges. Our C4I systems and architecture must allow us to effectively gather, process, distribute and display information at all decision-making levels, whether we are providing command and control for a joint task force from CONUS or fully deployed for a major regional contingency. The timely delivery of high quality, pertinent intelligence to the commander in the field is key to military success.

Robust satellite systems for communications, intelligence, warning, positioning and meteorology are essential to our success. In addition, technological advances are allowing us to make great strides in interoperability and corresponding joint effectiveness. Interoperability and joint system use have improved, and support from the national intelligence community remains essential to providing correlated, accurate intelligence from all sources to build assessments about regional activities.

Several key systems are being implemented, and your support is needed to provide sufficient funding to complete their implementation in a timely manner. Key examples are the Joint Deployable Intelligence Support System, the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, and the Global Command and Control System. All of these replace and integrate the functionality of multiple stovepipe systems into standard DoD wide capabilities.

Finally, it is essential that the U.S. CENTCOM Joint Intelligence Center's budget request for fiscal year 1996 and FY 1997 be fully supported for us to meet the full range of intelligence requirements for war-fighting and the overall DoD Intelligence Production Program.

On the strength of these programs and others, United States Central Command is ready to defend America's interests in the Central Region today and is looking forward into the 21st century. We are guided in the performance of our mission by the following vision for the future:

U.S. Central Command: a flexible and versatile command into the 21st century ... Trained, positioned and ready to defend the nation's vital interests, promote peace and stability, deter conflict and conduct operations spanning the conflict continuum; and prepared to wage unrelenting, simultaneous joint and combined operations to achieve decisive victory in war.

To achieve this vision, U.S. Central Command has developed a theater strategy that relies on a combination of overseas presence, U.S. power-projection capability and carefully cultivated regional relationships. Our continued success in this effort requires patient, long-term national dedication to the defense initiatives and commitments that we have undertaken over the past several years.

The 19 nations of the Middle East, northeast Africa and South Asia that make up the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility cover a vast geographic area. Larger than the continental United States, it stretches from Egypt and East Africa through the Arabian Peninsula to Pakistan and includes the waters of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and Arabian Gulf.

It is a region rich in culture and history, home to the birthplace of civilization, 427 million people making up 17 different ethnic groups, 420 major tribal groupings, six major languages with hundreds of dialects and the birthplace of three of the world's major religions.

It is a region that has suffered repeatedly from natural disasters, political upheaval and war, and a region of stark contrasts. These include wealth and poverty, stability and unrest, some of the world's highest mountains and greatest rivers along with some of the world's most barren deserts.

It is a region that, owing to its key maritime routes and abundance of oil, is of vital interest to our nation and to the international community. Nearly two-thirds of the world's proven oil reserves are located in the region, with worldwide economic significance.

It is a region where disputes over borders and unequal distribution of resources, particularly water and oil, can explode suddenly into conflict.

It is a region where an arms race in weapons of mass destruction and an assortment of different types of ballistic missiles threatens to intensify old animosities, fears and hatreds among traditional rivals. Proliferation of such weapons represents a significant peril that could threaten U.S. and allied military forces, undermine regional and international resolve to confront belligerents, and unhinge the U.S. regional strategy.

It is a region where securing our nation's vital interests is complicated by lines of communications extending 7,000 miles between the continental United States and the gulf; Iraq's ability to threaten Kuwait within hours; Iran's ability to intimidate its neighbors with its growing air, naval and missile forces; the lack of formal treaty alliances; the requirement to balance U.S. and allied military requirements with cultural and political sensitivities of regional states; and the need to be able to fight, maintain, and communicate in rugged terrain and harsh climate.

These regional dynamics and threats require United States Central Command to adopt a theater strategy that capitalizes on the social, political, economic and military elements of our national power.

The National Security Strategy, National Military Strategy and Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan identify key U.S. interests and Central Command's tasks, and provide a basis for our theater strategy. In keeping with these guidelines U.S. Central Command focuses on promoting regional stability by reassuring its friends, deterring conflict and maintaining readiness to fight and win. These concepts are imbedded in our mission:

 

  • Promote and protect U.S. interests;
  • Ensure uninterrupted access to regional resources;
  • Assist friendly states in providing for their own security and contributing to collective defense; and
  • Deter attempts by hostile regional states to achieve geo-political gains by threat or use of force.

To overcome the many security challenges of the Central Region, we endeavor to establish conditions in peacetime that promote stability, deter conflict and provide the mechanisms for prevailing in combat operations, if necessary.

The success of diplomatic and military activities in the region requires actions that stress U.S. partnerships with regional states and coalition building. One of our nation's great success stories over the last decade is the durability and depth of the relationships and friendships that our military leaders have forged with their regional counterparts. These relationships support achievement of strategic ends, facilitate implementation of our theater strategy and provide access to the region.

Achieving these partnerships and building coalitions is made possible by a long-term and flexible, three-tiered approach to deterring aggression. Tier I calls for each country to bear primary responsibility for its own self-defense. Next, if aggression occurs, friendly regional states should provide a collective defense known as Tier II. Under Tier III the U.S. and other allies from outside the region stand ready to form a coalition to defend common interests in the region, if necessary.

This concept underlies a theater strategy supported by five pillars. These include: forward presence, combined exercises, security assistance, power-projection capability from the U.S. and readiness to fight. Taken together these five pillars and their interrelationships describe the major activities that this command pursues to accomplish assigned missions.

The first three pillars -- forward presence, combined exercises and security assistance -- comprise the overseas presence portion of our strategy and facilitate our continued engagement in the region.

Forward presence demonstrates U.S. commitment, strengthens deterrence and facilitates transition from peace to war. Naval forces are critical to our long-term forward presence because of their flexible offshore stationing. As a result of the Gulf War and more recently our resolve demonstrated in Operation Vigilant Warrior, presence ashore has been expanded.

Air forces remain deployed in the region to deter aggression and to enforce U.N. resolutions under Operation Southern Watch. Patriot air defense batteries and special operations forces and other Marine and Army forces conducting frequent exercises add to our presence. Based on our Vigilant Warrior experience, pre-positioned equipment and supplies for heavy armored forces, and supporting military construction have become increasingly important elements of our forward presence. These stocks reduce the strategic lift demands inherent in deploying significant combat forces and improve responsiveness to our forces in the region.

The carrier battle group and the amphibious ready group with its Marine expeditionary unit have continued to be the mainstay of naval operations in the Central Region throughout the year. Inclusion of attack submarines in deploying CVBGs provides an added dimension of strategic capability through monitoring and protecting sea lines of communication and enhancing strike capability with an increased presence of Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles. Because of their limited footprint, strategic agility, calculated ambiguity of intent and major strategic and operational deterrent capability, naval forces are invaluable.

Naval operations this year have included enforcement of United Nations Security Council resolutions, support for Somalia operations and Operation Vigilant Warrior. Our ability to rapidly move these forces in 1993 and again in 1994 from the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Gulf to positions off the coast of Somalia and Kuwait demonstrates extraordinary utility and versatility.

Providing support for U.N. sanctions against Iraq, operations in Somalia and 37 joint and combined exercises, the CVBG, in particular, has been an unmistakable sign of U.S. commitment and resolve in the central region. The ARG/MEU's immediate response to Iraq's hostile posture in October 1994, complemented by the rapid deployment of Army forces falling in on pre-positioned equipment in Kuwait and the air forces in the region, capitalized on the synergism of joint operations and placed a combined arms team forward that effectively deterred Saddam from further aggression.

Air operations over southern Iraq are conducted by Joint Task Force Southwest Asia, consisting of over 100 U.S. aircraft along with a smaller number of allied aircraft. Since commencing operations in August 1992 JTF-SWA has flown close to 60,000 sorties, nearly two-thirds of them over Iraq. With its carefully selected mix of reconnaissance, air-to-air, air-to-ground and support aircraft, this force enhances regional defensive capabilities, facilitates rapid buildup of U.S. combat naval and air power during crisis and is capable of inflicting significant damage on enemy forces in the first hours of hostilities.

Furthermore, air operations involving regional forces strengthen relations with regional friends. All of these benefits of forward-positioned air forces were demonstrated in Operation Vigilant Warrior, where presence facilitated rapid reinforcement and signaled Iraq and other would-be aggressors that the U.S. was capable of unleashing punishing attacks against its foes. We are convinced that forward positioning of U.S. air and other forces provides a valuable deterrent to aggression in the region.

More limited in scope than our daily sea and air operations, ground operations are, nonetheless, an essential dimension of our overseas presence. Deterrence of potential adversaries requires that we maintain a credible capability to defeat ground offensives. This can only be obtained by synchronizing joint and combined air, sea, space and ground operations.

The positioning of Patriot batteries in the region emplaces a credible defense against enemy ballistic missiles. An interim measure, these systems may eventually be withdrawn as regional countries field their own weapons. Additional forward ground presence is afforded by frequent exercises by Army and Marine forces complemented by other activities by special operations forces.

Significant is the pre-positioning of heavy Army equipment in theater. In particular, the brigade set in Kuwait, combined with a robust exercise program, allows us to readily close into the theater a lethal forward-positioned combat force early during a crisis. In this fashion we establish conditions conducive to blunting an attack and creating conditions to seize the initiative. As mentioned previously, we are moving forward with plans to augment this capability by constructing facilities for a second brigade set of Army equipment in Southwest Asia and are examining the possibility of placing a third set elsewhere in the area. Collectively, this would place a full Army division on the ground in short order; this enhanced ground combat capability will ensure U.S. military flexibility, enabling us to promote stability in the region and reduce risks during crises.

Our pre-positioning program also includes Air Force and Navy equipment stored throughout the region. During the last three years great progress has been made in concluding defense cooperation agreements and in establishing storage sites for Air Force bare base sets (Harvest Falcon), Navy forward logistic sets, water and fuel distribution equipment, medical supplies and infrastructure, support vehicles and equipment, and rations. Stockpiling this material reduces strategic lift requirements, decreases deployment times and provides critical sustainment early during the force buildup.

Success in all of these endeavors requires your support and consistent, patient, long-term negotiations in order to achieve the proper blend of U.S. and host nation commitment and responsibility sharing to minimize U.S. costs.

The benefits of forward presence are complemented by our second pillar, combined exercises. Involving all of the services, this effort offers over 100 joint and combined exercise opportunities annually, to include numerous naval and special operations exercises, Bright Star in Egypt, the Intrinsic Action in Kuwait, and the Ultimate Resolve series of exercises. Through such activities we maintain access, advance interoperability with regional partners, enhance forward presence and improve the individual and collective military capabilities of the GCC [Gulf Cooperative Council] states. Over the last few years we have witnessed measured progress in the ground force capabilities of our regional partners and even greater improvement in their air, naval and special operations capabilities.

We expect to see continued operational improvement over the long term as regional military leaders modernize their forces and gain more experience working with the U.S. and with one another. Continued improvement will allow more rigorous and demanding trilateral and multilateral command post and field exercises all focused on raising the proficiency of participants to operate collectively to secure common defensive goals. Throughout the AOR [area of responsibility] combined exercises are the mechanism for providing U.S. forces valuable training in this distinctly different environment, assisting friendly states in satisfying legitimate defense needs and increasing U.S. access to the region.

Our third pillar, security assistance, provides an additional means of improving defense capability of regional friends, training regional military forces, promoting interoperability, gaining access, strengthening military to military relationships and increasing over time the ability of states to provide for individual and collective defense. It includes four major elements: foreign military sales, foreign military financing, IMET [International Military Education and Training] and mobile training and technical assistance field teams. Such activities support our aim of building regional defensive arrangements while providing a degree of U.S. control over arms transfers.

Since 1990 foreign military sales in the Central Region have accounted for a large portion of total U.S. military sales abroad. Through FMS, regional friends purchase a wide assortment of military equipment, training, maintenance and follow-on logistic support. A portion of FMS is dedicated to military construction that supports our forward presence and allows rapid reinforcement.

The security assistance program is reinforced by the more limited foreign military financing programs that provide grants to regional states. Past benefits of military funding in assisting foreign friends and maintaining access justify its cost and demonstrate the importance of continued support. Both military sales and military funding promote interoperability and regional self-defense.

To enhance the war-fighting capability of regional partners, we should continue to modernize their forces. Effective employment of new equipment is achieved through training teams and IMET initiatives. Through more than 680 personnel deployed in the region on training teams, we are able to increase technical and tactical proficiency of regional military forces and their leaders. Such teams provide an ancillary service of strengthening regional friendships and bolstering our forward presence. Our efforts in this area are reinforced by the International Military Education and Training program that educates regional military leaders in U.S. military institutions. Through this effort we improve the military capabilities of foreign military leaders, increase trust and friendships with regional states, and help familiarize foreign military and civilian leaders with America's military and its democratic values and culture.

Key points stressed in this training include civilian control of the military, preservation of human rights and the workings of democratic institutions. There are enormous long-term benefits for our own country as a result of this education and formulation of ideals and relationships.

Taken together, these three pillars allow the U.S. to maintain a visible presence in the region and respond to crises spanning the spectrum of conflict. In the event of a crisis, forces and equipment forward deployed in the region become the foundation for executing flexible deterrent options, which hopefully are successful in resolving the crisis, and if not, serve as the vanguard for follow-on forces.

The fourth pillar of our theater strategy, power projection, defines activities and qualities of U.S. military forces that support rapid projection of forces from the U.S. into the Central Region and preparation of those forces for combat operations.

Within this context U.S. Central Command is keenly interested in the Air Force's C-17 program, the Navy's Fast Sealift Ships and Ready Reserve Force, the Army's brigade set of equipment afloat (currently 12 ships) and the Marine Corps' maritime pre-positioning force. This latter force includes three maritime pre-positioning squadrons, each able to support a Marine expeditionary force (forward) of nearly 15,000 personnel with supplies and equipment for 30 days.

Similarly, the command can rely on the Air Force's four logistic ships, carrying supplies and ammunition. With these capabilities, U.S. CENTCOM can fly a heavy Army brigade's personnel to link up with equipment stored in Kuwait and additional forces to link up with Army and Marine equipment arriving aboard pre-positioning ships.

To sustain all of our forces in theater the command supports advances in the full range of power projection logistics and will exercise these activities frequently in the year ahead. Initiatives include gaining access to and exercising air bases and ports worldwide that will facilitate deployment of forces to the Central Region, procuring automation that ensures asset visibility providing real-time location of in-transit equipment and enhancing port-opening equipment robustness.

To ensure that all of these activities are properly sequenced and priorities established, Central Command is continuing to refine plans, review force deployment requirements and clarify movement priorities.

The requisite command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence infrastructure that is needed to carry out assigned military tasks allows U.S. Central Command to execute a full range of FDOs [flexible deterrent options] to preclude hostilities. It also enables us to limit conflicts when they occur and conduct decisive combat operations if required.

The fifth and final pillar of our theater strategy, readiness to fight, stresses activities that ensure that the Central Command headquarters and individual component commands possess standard operating procedures that facilitate rapid deployment during crises, for conducting synchronized joint and combined operations and waging high tempo warfare. To ensure readiness we are constantly engaged in reviewing and refining our war and contingency plans. In addition we conduct war-fighting conferences with component commanders and their staffs, perform joint and combined training and conduct command post and other exercises to maintain enhanced levels of readiness.

Also critical to our readiness to fight is the vital contribution made by the reserve component of our armed forces. Reserves complement active duty forces by bringing important capabilities that facilitate early access and continued sustainment. Individual mobilization augmentees, Air Guard crewmembers and others perform key functions in staff operations, airlift, port openings, civil affairs and many other areas.

Continued support for professional military education, both joint and service, lays the groundwork for an officer corps which can think creatively, reason critically and act decisively in the face of ambiguity and uncertainty. Our nation's PME [professional military education] institutions make direct and enduring contributions to the professional competence of our rising military leaders and deserve our strong support in the coming years. We cannot afford to reduce the quality of PME at a time when its fruits are in highest demand.

Through the five pillars of our theaterstrategy, U.S. Central Command promotes regional stability, maintains access and deters aggression. We also establish the military conditions required to limit the intensity of conflict should deterrence fail and finally, to fight and win when required. Activities undertaken in the five pillars position this command to transition smoothly and seamlessly from peace to war.

As we deal with the demanding peacetime requirements in the Central Region, we must remain focused on the fundamental purpose of our military forces: To fight and win our nation's wars. If deterrence fails, U.S. CENTCOM must be able to conduct combat operations spanning the conflict continuum, from humanitarian assistance to high-intensity war, against a full range of potential military adversaries, to include insurgents, terrorists, mechanized ground formations, air and naval forces and ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. While we recognize that each form of conflict and type of adversary calls for an appropriately tailored response, we need to address the major threat to this nation's vital interests: high-intensity war in the Central Region.

In this context, capitalizing on U.S. advantages in technology, weapons, leadership and quality people reduces risks to U.S. and coalition forces and minimizes friendly casualties. Our military forces take advantage of the complementary capabilities found within each of the services to advance across great distances; strike at enemy weaknesses; launch unrelenting precision deep strikes against the enemy's military, industrial, and information infrastructure; conduct continuous, all-weather joint and combined operations; and simultaneously assault tactical, operational, and strategic objectives.

The speed, precision and flexibility associated with such operations require commanders to exploit the advantages of the entire battle space, maximizing the benefits derived from each service.

U.S. Central Command's war and contingency plans and standard operating procedures build on the command's peacetime activities to address the exigencies associated with single and dual major regional contingencies as well as military operations at the lower end of the spectrum. Using peacetime partnerships and regional access as a foundation, we are prepared to forge coalitions and integrate U.S. and friendly military capabilities to confront regional aggressors.

As tensions heighten, we rely on the three-tiered defensive structure established in peacetime to elicit regional support for coalition activity and create the military structures needed to defeat adversaries.

Our war plans envision employing U.S. and coalition forces in concert to safeguard U.S. and allied interests. Given ambiguous early warning and early deployment decisions, U.S. military forces would undertake a series of flexible deterrent options in concert with regional partners to send a clear signal of resolve to hostile powers. If these measures prove inadequate, the U.S., with coalition support, would continue to deploy air, sea and ground forces to defend against attackers. If such actions fail to blunt enemy action, the U.S. would deploy additional forces and launch a joint and combined offensive to quickly overwhelm the enemy and restore regional stability.

For years the United States has been successful in securing its vital interests in the Central Region and in progressing toward realization of long-term regional aims. We should honor the superb work of U.S. personnel who have performed a great service by forging close relations with regional friends, negotiating basing agreements and host nation support for our operations and putting in place the structure of our theater strategy. We should take particular pride in the work of military men and women who have toiled long hours, often under difficult conditions, to improve the capabilities of our friends, bring famine relief and security to Somalis, carry out maritime intercept operations in support of U.N. sanctions against Iraq, fly air operations as part of Southern Watch and so ably defend our nation's interests in this complex region.

Continuing in their fine tradition with a smaller force will require us to recruit and retain only the top quality personnel, making your support for professional military education and quality of life initiatives an invaluable contribution to maintaining our high standards of professionalism.

Threats to America's vital interests in the region represent a grave challenge for our nation now and for the foreseeable future. To meet these demands, U.S. Central Command employs a long-term strategy and undertakes daily activities that send a clear signal to friends and foe alike that we are resolute in confronting threats to regional stability.

We at U.S. Central Command are committed to meeting the challenges of preserving U.S. interests in this challenging and vital portion of the world. We look forward to working with the military services, Department of Defense and members of Congress in the coming months to realize our nation's goals in the Central Region.


Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/index.html.