US Central Command's Area of Responsibility
I pulled this off the US Central Command's website. CentCom is currently conducting war game trainings in Qatar. This document basically admits that this whole War on Terror thing is not about just Iraq and Afghanistan, but the long term goal of US hegemony (full-scale military occupation?) over the whole region.
USCENTCOM's Area of Responsibility (AOR) includes 25 culturally and economically diverse nations located throughout the Horn of Africa, South and Central Asia, and Northern Red Sea regions, as well as the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq.
The entire Central Region is larger than the Continental U.S., stretching more than 3,100 miles east-to-west and 3,600 miles north-to-south. It includes mountain ranges with elevations over 24,000 feet, desert areas below sea level and temperatures ranging from below freezing to more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Arabian Peninsula, Iraq & Northern Red Sea: USCENTCOM's Northern Red Sea and Arabian Peninsula area consists of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, and Yemen as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Strategic oil resources and waterways make the area of paramount importance. Our forward presence operations and an ambitious combined exercise program with the GCC members, Egypt, and Jordan help maintain stability. The primary challenge to that stability is the resurgence of military power in Iraq. The invasion of Kuwait was a clear example of Iraqi adventurism, and Saddam has been only reluctantly compliant after his crushing defeat. Moreover, Iraq continues to pursue unconventional capabilities in chemical, biological, and nuclear technology.
Horn of Africa: The countries in or near the Horn of Africa area are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan. Off the coast is the island nation of Seychelles. The region borders the critical sea lines of communication through the Red Sea, via the Bab el Mandeb. Famine, drought, and disease ravage the region, and civil wars in most of these countries have exacerbated the problems. In the worst example, Somalia, anarchy and inter-clan fighting caused widespread starvation by 1992 and triggered both U.S. and UN intervention to alleviate the suffering.
South & Central Asia: USCENTCOM's South Asian area consists of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan; all are important to the United States and face daunting challenges. The primary challenge to stability is the resurgence of military power in Iran. Iran's expansion in the political, military, and economic spheres is also of increased concern. Iran's more moderate leadership has not quelled its desire to rid the region of a U.S. presence and attain its goal of regional hegemony. Pakistan and Afghanistan's developing relationships with the Central Asian Republics to the north, along with Iran's military buildup to the west, add new dimensions, which could change the geopolitical outlook, further undermining stability. Of course, the Pakistani dispute with India over Kashmir threatens to flare up, and the continuing civil war in Afghanistan and drug traffic originating from the "Golden Crescent" are also of great concern. Finally, the acquisition of ballistic missile and nuclear weapon technology by regional adversaries, including Iran, presents another long-term threat to stability. The key to countering these challenges is a strong, stable, and friendly Pakistan.
The addition of the five Central Asian States has brought new challenges and opportunities to US Central Command's area of responsibility. The Central Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan remain relatively stable, and we have increased our contact programs with their military forces. Of the four, Kyrgyzstan has made the most progress in implementing democratic ideals. The civil war in Tajikistan is the single most violent case of unresolved conflict plaguing the region, but even there, progress toward peace and stability has been made. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan possess a potential wealth of natural resources, and Caspian region energy (oil and gas) development has moved out of its early, formative stage and is poised for extensive development in the next several years. However, development decisions are taking place within an environment of differing agendas on the part of CAS and Caspian Sea oil producing states and intense competition from the potential transit states. Because of the enormous energy riches at stake the potential for instability exists as countries settle questions of ownership and acceptable export routes.
In conclusion, the Central Region has continued to grow in importance and is the overseas area where U.S. interests are most likely to be directly threatened. Maintaining stability in this volatile region is key to the free flow of oil and other commerce essential to the world economy. Through continued attention to the legitimate defense needs of our friends, and by maintaining appropriate military presence and access, we can promote regional security while protecting our own vital interests.
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