GENERAL ANTHONY C. ZINNI
COMMANDER IN CHIEF
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
BEFORE THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
3 MARCH 1998
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee.
United States Central Command’s Area of Responsibility (AOR) comprises 20 nations, ranging from Egypt in the West to Pakistan in the East, from Iraq in the North to Kenya and the Horn of Africa in the South. It includes the waters of the Red Sea, Arabian Gulf, and the Western portions of the Indian Ocean. It remains, as it has for centuries, a region of diversity, with different cultures, religions, economic conditions, demographics, and forms of government. As a result of the most recent change to the Unified Command Plan (UCP), on 1 October 1999, U.S. CENTCOM will assume responsibility for five additional countries in the central Asian region. These countries are Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
Operations in the Gulf
First, from a military point of view, it is clear that the sanctions regime established by the United Nations following Iraq’s defeat in 1991 has had the effect of steadily eroding Iraq’s conventional capability. In addition, it has seriously impeded Iraq’s ability to reconstitute its massive program of development of weapons of mass destruction. At CENTCOM we have long kept Iraq under close observation, and the trend lines indicate that although Iraq continues to divert scarce resources to the key military units that constitute Saddam Hussein’s power base, the effectiveness of Iraq’s military is slowly but surely declining. As long as comprehensive UN sanctions remain in place, and as long as UNSCOM remains an effective instrument, a process of attrition and erosion of Iraq’s military effectiveness is likely to continue and even accelerate. The sanctions have effectively prevented Iraq’s military from modernizing, and while he has been able to keep a significant conventional force operating through reducing force structure and cannibalization, we expect further erosion in readiness and capability as sanctions continue.
The second point I would make is that our military posture in the Gulf region is far stronger today than it has ever been. Just a few short years ago, the current development of our military facilities and access throughout the Arabian Peninsula would have been unimaginable. In addition, our ability to deploy forces quickly through such instruments as rapidly deployable forces, prepositioning, and forward headquarters have been greatly improved. Our exercises with coalition partners have grown in quality and sophistication and enable us to test the force projection capabilities of U.S. units and give deployed units critical experience. Moreover, despite all the talk about strains in the coalition, it is my experience that this presence is welcomed by all the states of the Gulf Cooperative Council, without exception. Access has been granted quickly by our friends in the region and in the case of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, our forces receive significant Assistance in Kind (AIK) to defray local costs and expenses. Egypt has been particularly helpful by authorizing rapid overflight clearances and Suez Canal transits.
The third point is that as a result of these factors, we have increased confidence in our ability to deal with a potential Iraqi threat to Kuwait and to other states of the region. Our exercise INTRINSIC ACTION, the regular rotation of an Army battalion task force, augmented by deployed Marines in the gulf is a major part of our ability to deter any aggression. That task force can be rapidly increased to brigade or larger size, using prepositioned equipment in Kuwait, as we have just done with forces from the 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Georgia. In addition, afloat Army and Marine prepositioned equipment can be rapidly married with troops to build our combat power further.
Fourth, while Iraq’s conventional capabilities continue to erode, if UNSCOM were somehow removed from the equation, and if Iraq were free again to devote resources to a resumption of its WMD program, the threat to the region and to our interests this would pose would be, in my judgement, intolerable. I am optimistic that with the support of the states of the region, we can deal with the military threat posed by Iraq – provided that a strong UN sanctions regime remains in place, and that UNSCOM continues to be an effective organization with the backing of the Security Council.
In this regard, there is a need to further strengthen the sanctions regime. The multinational Maritime Interdiction Force (MIF) in the Gulf, which acts according to Security Council Resolutions to prevent the illegal export of Iraqi gasoil, has been effective. Since 1 October 1994, 121 ships have been diverted for sanctions violations. The participation of the United Kingdom, Belgium, Canada, Australia, Italy and other coalition nations has made this operation a great success. But more needs to be done. Despite sanctions and increased cooperation by such states as the UAE, smuggling has increased in recent months, with well-organized networks using Iranian coastal waters as shelter. I hope that the sanctions committee of the Security Council headed by Ambassador Montiero of Portugal could urge other states with naval forces in the area, including France, to play a more active role in MIF operations. On the Jordanian border, I believe our assistance can help Jordan strengthen its defenses against increasingly well armed Iraqi smugglers.
America’s National Security Interests
America’s interests in this region reflect our beliefs in access to free markets, the Middle East Peace Process, protection of and access to regional energy resources, and reduce the proliferation of conventional and mass destruction weapons. The vast quantities of oil, gas, and other resources present in the gulf region, which include 69 percent of the world’s known oil reserves plus significant natural gas fields, are essential to today’s global economies. Much of the oil exported from the Arabian Gulf countries passes through at least one of three important maritime choke points: the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, or the Bab el Mandeb between Yemen and Eritrea. When the Central Asian States are added to CENTCOM’s AOR in 1999, the addition of their energy resources, currently estimated at 15 – 25 billion barrels of oil, will only increase the importance of the region to economies worldwide.
Dealing with this diverse region calls for a strategy that coordinates military operations and political-military relationships, recognizes cultural sensitivities, and addresses the legitimate security needs of individual countries in the region. The success of Central Command’s previous Five-Pillar Strategy, which focused on improving our ability to fight and win a major regional contingency, has given us the ability to move forward and balance our warfighting capabilities with a regional strategy of collective engagement. This strategy brings new priorities for U.S. Central Command that will involve the balance, integration, and flexible coordination of all operations, exercises, and programs within our AOR. The scope of this coordination must include all sponsors of engagement initiatives as well as potential recipients. Such unity is the cornerstone for successful engagement. Through the relationships and mutual respect we have formed in recent years we have learned that a collective approach to defense to regional threats is important. We share many defensive priorities with our friends in the region: protection from ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, and freedom of the seas, including unfettered access to international straits in the region.
The individual nature of the 20 countries that currently make up Central Command’s AOR requires that our strategy not be one where "one size fits all". The uniqueness of our AOR necessitates that we look at the region from a "sub-regional" perspective. Our engagement plans for the countries of the Arabian Gulf and peninsula must be different from the countries that make up the Horn of Africa; just as our strategy for the states of Egypt and Jordan must be different from the south and central Asia sub-region.
Regional Threats to U.S. Interests and Security.
Iraq clearly remains the near term threat to U.S. interests as well as to the other countries of the Arabian Gulf. Iraq has continued to defy UN Security Council Resolutions. Saddam has not abandoned his goal of developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in order to threaten the region. Accordingly, he will steadfastly pursue his primary objectives. These include ensuring the survival of his regime, maintaining a residual WMD capability, obtaining sanctions relief, dividing the coalition that defeated him in 1991, safeguarding Iraqi sovereignty, eventually reasserting authority over the entire country, and pursuing his hegemonic goals in the region.
Iran remains potentially the most dangerous long-term threat to peace and stability in the Central Region. Like many others in the region and in the world, we at CENTCOM were intensely interested in the surprising election last May of President Khatemi. Our security interests in the Gulf would obviously be well served by a less hostile relationship between the U.S. and Iran. Like our friends in the region, we are watching the signs of possible moderation in a cautious but hopeful manner.
For Iran to play a positive role in the region, however, will require changes in Iranian behavior, and unfortunately there is little indication of change in this regard at this time. Iran continues its aggressive pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and offensive missile systems, which are inconsistent with defensive intentions. President Khatemi does not appear to control the main instruments of state power: the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the armed forces, and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security. Surveillance by Iranian intelligence operatives of U.S. installations and those of our friends in the region continue. There is no indication that Iran is prepared to renounce the use of terrorism as a means of advancing its ends.
While there has been some warming in the relationship between Iran and its Gulf neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia following the Islamic Conference summit held in Tehran in December, Iran has not yet been willing to negotiate with its neighbors on specific areas of confrontation. Our friends in the GCC remain properly wary of Iran’s long-term intentions. Calls by Iran for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Gulf tend to reinforce that wariness.
On the positive side, there has been some indication of a less confrontational approach by the Iranian Navy in its routine communications with our Navy in the crowded seas of the Gulf. From a military perspective, a practical agreement with Iran for a naval deconfliction regime to prevent unintended incidents at sea and take advantage of the apparent change of attitude by their naval forces would be a good first step.
Proliferation of WMD and Delivery Systems
The proliferation of advanced weapons and associated technology continues to be a major concern, not just in the Central Region, but in countries in our Area of Interest (AOI), just beyond the borders of our AOR. Much attention is focused on the missile and WMD programs in Iran and Iraq. However, nations such as Syria, India, and Israel, who are not in our AOR but are in our Area of Interest, all possess short and medium range ballistic missiles. Several of these countries in our AOR and AOI are aggressively pursuing ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to dominate weaker neighbors, offset superior regional enemies, and as a cost-effective alternative to building large, conventional forces. Such activities, combined with the precedent of previous use in the region and high value afforded these capabilities, portend a disturbing future in this volatile area.
In order to deal with this problem, not just in the Central Region, but around the world, we must continue to pursue a cohesive counter-proliferation policy. In order to effect a collective cooperative defense against WMD in our AOR, such a policy needs to address three distinctly different yet inter-related programs: missile defense, nuclear, biological and chemical defense, training and readiness.
The dynamic and volatile Central Region offers a fertile environment for terrorists to recruit, train, and conduct operations. The situation is exacerbated by religious conflict, ethnic and tribal divisions, economic challenges, and political disenfranchisement. This, in turn, has led some factions in the region to champion extremism, frequently under the banner of religion, as their best hope for achieving political and social change.
Islamic fundamentalists, as opposed to Islamic extremists, pose no real threat to U.S. interests. The fundamentalist movement encourages a return to basic Islamic values, much like other conservative religious movements around the world. It is the extremists who pose a threat, not just to U.S. personnel around the world, but to their own people and governments as well.
In the past two years we have taken aggressive steps to protect our service members in the region. During Operation DESERT FOCUS we relocated our most vulnerable units to more secure facilities. However, while we can reduce the risk, we can never entirely eliminate it. To be effective, our people cannot live their lives behind high walls, concertina wire, and jersey barriers. Our security assistance personnel must travel and interact with host nation colleagues on a daily basis. Intelligence and awareness are the keys to force protection, and we will continue to make every effort to protect our forces.
The ability to deal with this threat has been complicated by a new generation of terrorists. In recent years, extremist use of terrorism has emerged into a "transnational" endeavor. Many terrorist organizations are much more independent of state sponsors than those in the past. Established terrorist organizations such as Hizballah and al-Gamaat al-Islamiya are cooperating with these newer "transnational" groups. In many cases Islamic extremists, who gained military experience and religious indoctrination while fighting in Afghanistan, form these newer groups. These zealots seek to remove the U.S. presence while undermining moderate regimes in the region, and replace them with governments that will adhere to their brand of extremism. Organized into small cells and generally operating with little centralized direction, "transnational" terrorists receive support from multiple national and non-government sources. They are ruthless, and for the most part, well armed and effectively trained. They can attack U.S. forces and other Western targets with little or no warning. By conducting terrorist attacks, they intend to embarrass our regional allies and erode American public support for our policies in the region. Deterring attacks by these terrorists will continue to require the extensive use of intelligence resources and elaborate defensive steps.
General Regional Instability
Uncertainty in the Central Command Area of Responsibility will continue to challenge regional leaders and U.S. policymakers; demanding immediate responses ranging from humanitarian assistance to major theater military operations.
There are no easy solutions to regional stability. Each sub-region has its own unique problems.
Some countries are confronting internal political and religious extremists seeking to unseat pro-Western, progressive governments. These extremists are in many cases supported by third countries whose objectives are to destabilize their neighbors and gain control of vital resources or trade.
Sovereignty disputes over islands located in critical maritime choke points and along formal borders threaten to escalate at any time. Other destabilizing situations include disputes over water rights along the Nile River Valley, humanitarian crisis and civil wars in the Horn of Africa, and a number of ethnic, tribal, and religious disputes.
Our challenge is to promote stability in the region. Progress toward settlement of historic disputes is possible. Resolution of these longstanding disputes can remove much of the impetus for extremist measures like terrorism and help ensure peaceful transition of leadership in friendly states in the region.
Collective Engagement – A Regional Strategy
Implementing an effective theater strategy to protect U.S. interests within such a diverse and complex region is complicated by many factors. The unique role of this unified command to be both a warfighting headquarters and a staff directing a political-military strategy day-to-day is challenging. It involves the full spectrum of engagement from warfighting and contingency planning to combined and bilateral exercises to UN sanctions enforcement and monitoring to security assistance and demining operations. The consistent element throughout our engagement strategy is military-to-military personal contact as the catalyst for enhanced national and regional self-defense, and for coalition building. We have recently begun a review of our strategy to bring more focus, flexibility, long-term vision, and cooperative approach to it. Additionally, we seek to fully identify and tap the resources available to us to affect our strategy. This must be done in a complementary manner with other governmental and non-governmental agencies, and with our allies in the region. We believe our Area of Responsibility may be in transition and we want to be forward looking and prepared to handle change to our advantage.
The Multinational Maritime Intercept Operations (MIO) being coordinated under the leadership of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), are one of the most visible demonstrations of our commitment to the region. This component command of USCENTCOM is the only one permanently located in our AOR. Alongside other coalition members, the rotating carrier battle groups, amphibious ready groups, cruise missile equipped surface ships and submarines enforce UN sanctions against Iraq and protect our interests in the Gulf. Since the beginning of Operation DESERT SHIELD, they have boarded over 10,000 ships checking for contraband headed for Iraq, diverting 640 for violations. In addition, they ensure the right of free passage, and conduct contingency operations as directed.
Central Command also continues to maintain the southern "No Fly Zone" (Operation Southern Watch) imposed by the coalition on Iraq and monitors the "no-enhancement zone" imposed by UNSCR 949. The effect is to limit Saddam Hussein’s ability to project his military power into the southern third of Iraq, from where he could potentially threaten Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. This operation, conducted under the leadership of U.S. Central Command Air Force (CENTAF) by the men and women of the 4404th Provisional Wing, supporting elements of our other services, and our coalition partners, provides a stabilizing influence and additional reminder of our commitment to the region. As of 1 February 1998, the men and women of Operation Southern Watch (OSW) have flown 167,000 sorties enforcing the No Fly Zone in southern Iraq. The high operational readiness rates they have maintained while conducting this operation are testimony to their great work. In addition, OSW provides a means of detecting and countering any aggressive moves by either Iraq or Iran.
In order to counter the threat posed by Short and Medium Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM/MRBM), we have deployed Patriot Air Defense Missile units to key locations within the AOR. These units, which are rotated in from the continental U.S. and bases in Europe, provide a critical measure of security for our deployed forces.
Through our exercises INTRINSIC ACTION and IRIS GOLD we also show our commitment to the physical security of Kuwait. INTRINSIC ACTION, a field training exercise conducted year-round in Kuwait focuses on battalion and brigade task force operations. IRIS GOLD, a continuous quarterly combined support team exercise using forces under the command and control of CENTCOM’s Special Operations Command, promotes coalition interoperability and readiness.
In Kenya, we recently began Operation NOBLE RESPONSE, a humanitarian mission in response to recent flooding. The purpose of this operation is to provide disaster relief assistance to Kenya and assist the people of Kenya in emergency planning. To date, we have airlifted 300 tons of supplies, using C-130s provided by the USMC and JTF-SWA. This joint operation involved Marine, Air Force, and Special Operations units of the Central Command.
Another lower profile operation being conducted in our AOR is humanitarian demining. This program, conducted by each of our components, is currently underway in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Jordan. We will establish a demining program in Yemen this summer and assess the possibility of including Egypt and Oman soon after. Its purpose is to train host nation military and civilian personnel to operate demining equipment and clear the mines that were employed in those countries during recent and past conflicts. This program helps save life and limb and should continue to receive a high level of support from the United States.
Given the varied and critical operations taking place in USCENTCOM’s AOR, our limited, but effective, forward presence and operational tempo are closely watched. With few permanently stationed forces in the region, personnel and units are rotated in from their bases in the continental U.S. to conduct and support operations in the theater. In order to continue to conduct contingency operations now and in the future, we must ensure that we have not only a technologically superior military, but one that has an adequate force structure as well. Our power projection strategy, vital to our theater, is based on our forward deployed forces, rapidly deployable forces from CONUS and other theaters, and our robust land and sea-based prepositioning assets. These components give us the ready forces we need in the time we need them to meet our war and contingency plans. They also provide a flexible and efficient way to close forces when required for operations and exercises in the region.
Another key part of our strategy is USCENTCOM’s exercise program. In planning and executing our exercise plan we have recognized the realities of today’s smaller budgets and reduced forces. Since 1993, when we had 138 exercises scheduled, we have decreased our exercises to the point where that in 1999, we expect to conduct only 76, a reduction of 45%. This program, consisting of both U.S. and combined exercises, plays a major role in helping our coalition partners refine their warfighting skills and improve military-to-military relationships. In addition, it allows us to exercise the force projection capabilities of U.S. units and give deployed units critical regional experience. As a result of conducting fewer but increasingly joint exercises, it is essential that we don’t reduce this program any further.
During fiscal year 1997, this command conducted 62 air, land, sea, and special operations exercises. Of these 62 exercises, 30 were conducted using forces already in theater, providing not only a financial savings when compared to paying for the deployment of forces from the U.S., but giving those forces realistic operational experience.
Important parts of USCENTCOM’s regional engagement are military and political relations. These relationships with the U.S. personnel at each embassy in the region, as well as with the military and political leadership of the host country are responsible for the successes we have had over the years.
Through the country teams in the U.S. embassies we are able to closely coordinate our security assistance programs that help the countries in our AOR improve their military capabilities. One thousand military personnel are involved in our security assistance program in the Central Region. In recent years, countries in the region have focused on modernization through the procurement of military hardware. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) in the Central Region have accounted for a large portion of America’s worldwide sales – 38 percent from 1990 – 1997, with sales reaching $2.0 billion in 1997. Our Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program allows us to assist our friends in the region meet their legitimate self-defense needs.
These acquisitions of F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft, M-1A2 main battle tanks, entire Patriot missile units and other modern systems has enabled coalition members to upgrade their military capabilities. The assistance these programs provide towards modernization goes beyond the purchase of military hardware. It also includes the fielding of those systems, training on their use and sustainment. Essential to that training is looking at each country’s force structure and doctrine to institute changes that will enable the countries to improve the effectiveness of their military.
Egypt remains a cornerstone of U.S. strategy in the Middle East. Egypt is our crucial partner in Middle East Peace, but it is also an indispensable strategic partner, in areas from the Gulf to the Horn of Africa and beyond. The maintenance of strong Foreign Military Financing (FMF) levels serves our strategic interests, and allows CENTCOM to maintain a close relationship with our Egyptian counterparts. Exercise BRIGHT STAR, conducted in Egypt this year, involved over 16,700 US troops and forces from the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. This exercise cannot be replicated anywhere else in the region due to the unique training areas and infrastructure in Egypt. It will grow in participants and sophistication in the future and is critical to our collective defense efforts in CENTCOM. Our close military cooperation was clearly demonstrated by Egypt's participation in Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. Egypt participated alongside U.S. forces with a contribution of 33,600 combat troops, second only to the United Kingdom. Egypt continued to be a strong supporter of U.S. regional initiatives. The deployment of Egypt's 1700 man brigade to UN forces in Somalia and its sustained participation in Bosnia peacekeeping operations further demonstrated its commitment to international operations of mutual interest. During the current crisis with Iraq, as a direct result of our strong military relationship, U.S. forces received rapid clearance through the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace and use of enroute bases - vital routes to the Gulf. Such access was instrumental to our preparedness to deal with the Gulf crisis in 1990-91, in 1994 VIGILANT WARRIOR, and is instrumental to our preparedness to deal with Saddam now. Egypt is a key link in our strategic bridge to the heart of CENTCOM’s AOR.
Security assistance also improves coalition interoperability, as well as helps the countries of the region improve their self-defense capabilities. Supporting our security assistance efforts is the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program that allows military leaders from the region to study at U.S. military institutions such as our intermediate and senior service schools. Through their attendance at these institutions, we strengthen future ties between U.S. and regional military leaders, since many of those officers later become senior leaders in their countries. In addition, we demonstrate the values of a military operating within a democratic society. Support for this program should continue and be expanded if possible.
Our relationship with Pakistan, an important regional power, is currently subject to some strain in a number of areas, but our military-to-military relationship is strong, and it is important that it be preserved. In this regard, given the important role played in Pakistani society by the armed forces, it is critical that the current legislative restrictions on International Military Educational and Training (IMET) funding be removed. The restrictions have not had their intended effect with regard to non-proliferation, and they have limited our contact with an entire generation of Pakistani military officers. IMET is an excellent investment, and this is particularly true in Pakistan, a state with a strong and professional military tradition. Given the role the military has played in Pakistan as a guarantor of democracy, as well as Pakistan’s international contributions to peacekeeping, these self-defeating restrictions on IMET should be lifted as soon as possible. Pakistan’s military has joined the U.S. on a number of humanitarian and peacekeeping missions to include Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia.
GCC Political and Military Relations
Our relationships with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states remain strong. Over the years since Desert Storm, our military relationships with the GCC states have continued to strengthen and deepen, through joint exercises and constant interaction. During the current military build up in response to Iraq’s refusal to allow UN inspectors access to suspected weapons facilities, nations in the region granted access on short notice. Our mutual trust and confidence is enhanced by timely consultation on these occasions and by carefully taking into account their concerns and unique position in the region. Often media reports distort or misrepresent the level of cooperation and support provided.
Our friends in the region have contributed a great deal to offset the cost of our presence. They have incurred significant costs by building us prepositioning sites, providing fuel for Operation Southern Watch, providing existing housing and building new housing for our personnel, absorbing transportation costs, and waiving custom fees and taxes. Coalition members contributed over $380 million in burdensharing to support our presence in the region in 1997. They have paid over 50 percent of U.S. CENTCOM’s regional construction program in the gulf. Their support has not been limited to within the region. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and other countries have made financial and military commitments in support of U.S. policy in Somalia, Bosnia, and elsewhere. In this region, where we lack a formal alliance structure, and in which we have no bases of our own, personal relationships are crucial in getting things done. There is a need for us to sit down with the GCC states and consider together where we want to be in the longer term, so that we can plan for a flexible military presence which is commensurate with the threat we face. This dialogue over a longer-term strategy for Gulf security and stability is indispensable if we are to evolve a strategic framework for our cooperation.
Key Enabling Requirements
Critical to USCENTCOM’s ability to respond to regional threats, carry out contingency operations, and execute our regional strategy is Congressional support for several programs: (1) Force Deployment/Sustainability; (2) Theater Missile Defense; (3) Force Application; (4) Combating Terrorism; (5) Intelligence/Surveillance/Reconnaissance; (6) Command and Control; and (7) Joint Readiness.
The requirements for prepositioning, lift, and improved logistical systems are integral to our ability to project, deploy, and support forces on short notice in response to operations ranging from disaster relief to a major theater war.
Prepositioning in the region helps mitigate the time-distance dilemma (7,000 air miles and 12,000 sea miles from the continental U.S.), provides access, deters conflicts by demonstrating our commitment to the region, and facilitates sustainment of forces until the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) are established. During Operation DESERT THUNDER, the brigade set of equipment on the ground in Kuwait continues to be a key asset in both our exercise program and our ability to respond to threats in the Arabian Gulf.
Our strategic lift programs need continued support. We must continue modernization of both aircraft and ships. The procurement of Large Medium Speed Roll-On Roll-Off ships and C-17 transport aircraft have significantly enhanced our lift capability. With the pending retirement of the aging C-141 fleet, continued production of the C-17 and the C-5 Modernization Program are critical. In regards to our strategic sealift fleet, we must continue to adequately fund Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF) assets. Budget cuts to the National Defense Sealift Fund (NDSF) could lead to reduced readiness of the RRF.
Critical to our ability to support deployed forces and operations is a regional infrastructure that supports joint and combined campaigns. Finding the right level of infrastructure and presence is a dynamic process that takes into account the threat, regional sensitivities, and cost. It must also consider the improving capabilities of host nation forces. Our current strategy takes advantage of the shore-based brigade equipment set in Kuwait, another following in Qatar, logistical stocks in various locations, as well as the flexibility of additional sets afloat.
Theater Missile Defense
Given the threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic and cruise missiles in the Central Region, USCENTCOM requires an integrated missile defense capable of providing a near "leak proof" defense of theater forces and critical assets. We also require a theater missile defense "fused awareness" capability to provide rapid communications among intelligence assets, command and control, warning systems and weapons systems. We must continue improvements to lower tier systems such as Patriot PAC-III for point defense of critical nodes. In addition, we must push for a robust upper tier capability for the protection of theater assets. When combined, these systems will meet our requirements for a near "leak proof" defense.
The ability to project overwhelming and decisive military power is key to USCENTCOM’s theater strategy as well as our ability to shape the battlefield. We continue to place additional emphasis on our ability to project sea power, protect our Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) and shape battlespace within the Central Region. Modernization of our amphibious assault vehicles and medium lift helicopters will ensure our ability to conduct dominant operational maneuver from the sea. In addition, we need to improve our ability to protect SLOCs from being interrupted by mines, cruise missiles, and other threats. Finally, USCENTCOM requires a rapidly deployable deep attack capability that can range beyond currently fielded systems, to shape the battlespace.
While the forces we have deployed forward in the Central Region are limited, measures to enhance security are constantly reviewed -- because they remain a target. In the months since the bombing at Khobar Towers, Central Command has completed a major relocation of forces within the AOR, Operation DESERT FOCUS. The result is that our forces are in more secure locations, with their vulnerability significantly reduced. However, they are not invulnerable. The terrorist retains the advantage of choosing the time, place and method of attack. We must continue to be vigilant and understand that we will be attacked again. As terrorist tactics evolve, we will have to adjust our posture. We must however, improve our ability to target terrorism, which requires continued modernization of reconnaissance and other collection assets.
We have particular concerns about HUMINT. We must invest in efforts to train and develop the right people and contacts for HUMINT operations in the Central Region. Improvement of this resource is essential to our ability to monitor and accurately predict terrorist activities.
Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)
In no other area of the world is effective use of U.S. military power more dependent on accurate, timely intelligence. The great distances involved and the varied nature of the threats to U.S. interests in the Central Region require that we gain maximum advance warning of conventional attack on our allies. Meeting this need requires enhancements to our tactical signals intelligence, imagery (IMINT) and human (HUMINT) intelligence capabilities. This also involves the continued modernization of manned and unmanned airborne reconnaissance systems, and increased national collection support. Improvements to these systems and capabilities will ensure more responsive and accurate intelligence to commanders in the field.
Command and Control
The limited communications infrastructure in the Central Region, and our headquarters stationing in the continental U.S., create significant command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) challenges. As such, we require a robust, yet flexible C4I architecture that allows us to effectively and securely gather, process, distribute, display, and communicate information of all types and classification levels to users at numerous decision making levels.
Satellite communications are particularly important to these efforts, offering vital strategic and tactical capabilities that extend between the continental U.S. to and throughout our AOR. We must keep these critical links available and resist commercial pressures to sell frequencies necessary to ensure effective command and control.
It is important to note, however, that the level of network connectivity needed to implement this C4I infrastructure introduces new vulnerabilities. Threats ranging from foreign intelligence services to terrorists and criminals are capable of disrupting our systems. We will have to invest in and remain current with specialized security tools such as "firewalls" and automated intrusion detection capabilities to safeguard our systems.
The personnel provided by the Services to USCENTCOM are skilled, trained and ready. These forces, generally the "first to fight" in any contingency, arrive properly manned, trained and equipped. However, there are concerns about the units and personnel of the follow on echelons. In order to maintain our two major theater war capability, we need to ensure that the total force has adequate operations and maintenance funding to support training, infrastructure, exercises and deployments.
Key, low density, military specialties, such as those supporting U-2 operations, must be closely tracked to ensure that we have the skilled service men and women we need in our military.
Reductions to our exercise programs have already been made in accordance with the QDR’s mandate. Any further cuts run the risk of adversely affecting readiness, our ability to effectively conduct joint operations and campaigns, and exercise key elements of our strategic bridge.
The foundation of our post-DESERT STORM strategy was to gain access to a region with no U.S. bases, treaty commitments, or assigned forces and respond militarily to regional threats. In the past seven years we have accomplished much. Through a foundation of personal relationships at the military-to-military level, this strategy sought to guide this command in its mission to create regional stability, deter aggression, and fight and win decisively should deterrence fail.
The realities of today, with increased threats and reduced resources, pose new challenges and mandate a continual review of our strategy; improved coordination among CINCs, as well as cooperation with our coalition partners and ambassadors in the region.
The pressing need to modernize our military must be balanced with recognition that we need to maintain a sufficient force structure to employ it. Our service men and women are our greatest asset; and they are the main reason for the success we have enjoyed in the region.
Our strategy is balanced, integrated, and flexible. It addresses the "top down" guidance to implement the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the National Security and National Military Strategies, and Joint Vision 2010. We in U.S. Central Command look forward to working with the military Services, the Department of Defense, and the Congress in accomplishing our mission and meeting the unique challenges of our Area of Responsibility.