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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, September 9, 2002

A breakdown of U.S. military commands worldwide

 •  New command takes shape
 •  Profile: U.S. Northern Command chief

Advertiser Staff

Here is a list of the 10 unified military commands, with their responsibilities.

• Northern Command: Responsible for defense and security of the continental United States and Alaska, Canada and Mexico, parts of the Caribbean and waters up to 500 miles off the North American coast. Also will provide support to civil authorities for natural disasters or internal domestic attacks. Created in 2002.

• Pacific Command: Responsible for an area covering about 105 million square miles from the West Coast of the United States to the east coast of Africa and from the Arctic to the Antarctic. The oldest and largest of the unified commands, it was created in 1947.

• Joint Forces Command: Provides trained forces to field commanders; coordinates functions to ensure that elements of the various military branches can fight together. Also provides assistance to domestic civil authorities and oversees military operations in the North Atlantic area. The Atlantic Command, created in 1947, became Joint Forces Command in 1999.

• Strategic Command (to be merged with Space Command): Responsible for deterring nuclear attacks, bringing planning, targeting and wartime employment of strategic forces under the control of a single commander, while leaving day-to-day training, equipping and maintenance responsibilities for its forces with the Air Force and Navy. Created in 1992.

• Special Operations Command: Serves as joint command center for special operations forces of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Created in 1987.

• Transportation Command: Manages America's global defense transportation system, coordinating people and equipment to allow the country to project and sustain forces where they are needed. Created in 1987.

• Space Command (to be merged with Strategic Command): Coordinates the use of the Department of Defense's space forces for missions including launching and operating satellites; intelligence; assuring U.S. access to and freedom of operation in space, and denying it to enemies; researching and developing space-based capabilities; protecting and defending information, computers and networks from disruption or destruction; and developing the capabilities to conduct computer network attacks. Created in 1985.

• Central Command: Responsible for an area covering 25 nations in Africa, South and Central Asia and the Middle East. Created in 1983.

• Southern Command: Responsible for an area covering about 15.6 million square miles including Latin America south of Mexico; the waters adjacent to Central and South America, the Caribbean and its 13 island nations, European and U.S. territories; the Gulf of Mexico; and a portion of the Atlantic. The area includes 32 countries. The Caribbean Command, created in 1947, became Southern Command in 1963.

• European Command: Responsible for an area covering more than 13 million square miles, including 91 countries and territories extending from Norway to South Africa. Created in 1952.