Unified Combatant Commands


There are 11 Unified Combatant Commands: 

·       6 Geographical Commands 

o   U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)

o   U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)

o   U.S. European Command (EUCOM)

o   U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM)

o   U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM)

o   U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)

·       5 Functional Commands

o   U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM)

o   U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM)

o   U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM)

o   U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM)

o   U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM)


A Unified Combatant Command (UCC) is a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) command composed of forces from at least 2 of the 3 Military Departments (Army, Navy & Air Force) that have broad and continuing missions. These 11 UCCs were established to provide effective command and control of U.S. military forces, regardless of branch of service, in peace and war.


The chain of command for operational purposes (per the Goldwater–Nichols Act) goes from the President of the United States (POTUS) through the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) to any of the 11 Unified Combatant Commanders. If any UCC Commander believes that POTUS, or the SecDef, has issued an illegal order, they are bond by their oath to disobey it.


[Note that the 6 UCC Geographic Commands are global; the 5 UCC Functional Commands support the 6 Geographic Commands.] 

1) U.S Africa Command (Founded 1947) – Commanded by General Michael E. Langley - U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is responsible for military relations with African nations, the African Union and African regional security organizations. It protects and defends the interests of the U.S. by strengthening the defense capabilities of African nations and conducts military missions that increase security while deterring and defeating a variety of transnational threats.


2) U.S. Central Command (Founded 1983) – Commanded by Lieutenant General Erik Kurilla, U.S. Army 
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is responsible for operations with 20 countries in the "central” area of the globe: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen. U.S. Central Command utilizes national and international partnerships to build cooperation among nations, respond to crisis, deter and defeat threats and support development to increase stability in the region.


3) U.S. European Command (Founded 1952) – Commanded by General Tod D. Wolters - U.S. Air Force
U.S. European Command (EUCOM) works with NATO and partner nations to address the security and defense needs of nations in Europe and parts of the Middle East and Eurasia. It coordinates with nations to find cooperative solutions in peace and wartime alike, to plan training missions, provide humanitarian assistance and to develop strategies for promoting peace and stability in the region.


4) U.S. Northern Command (Founded 2002) – Commanded by General Glen VanHerck - U.S. Air Force
U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) operates in the area of responsibility encompassing the continental United States, Alaska, Mexico, Canada, portions of the Caribbean and surrounding waters. It is primarily responsible for civil support and homeland security and also oversees the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). It has few permanent forces and is instead assigned forces by the Secretary of Defense, or the President. whenever required for the execution of its missions.


5) U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (Founded 1947) – Commanded by Admiral John C. Aquilino - U.S. Navy
U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) oversees an area of responsibility stretching from the waters of the U.S. west coast to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole, encompassing 36 diverse nations. It and its partners work to promote the development of the region while cooperating to enhance security, deter aggression, respond with force when necessary and to provide humanitarian assistance.


6) U.S. Southern Command (Founded 1963) – Commanded by Lieutenant General Laura Richardson - U.S. Army
U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) oversees an area of responsibility encompassing 31 nations in Latin America south of Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean Sea. It works to increase the security of the U.S. by engaging its partners to enhance the peacekeeping abilities of the region, to promote human rights, to deter illegal activities associated with illicit trafficking and to conduct multinational military exercises designed to strengthen partnerships while developing collective capabilities.


7) U.S. Cyber Command (Founded 2009) – Commanded by General Paul Nakasone – U.S. Army 

U.S. Cyber Command's (CYBERCOM) mission is to direct, synchronize, and coordinate cyberspace planning and operations to defend and advance national interests in collaboration with domestic and international partners.


8) U.S. Special Operations Command (Founded 1987) – Commanded by General Richard D. Clarke – U.S. Army
The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is responsible for planning for and conducting special operations. It offers direct action in the form of short duration strikes and small-scale offensives, special reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, counterterrorism, psychological operations, information operations, counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, security force assistance, counterinsurgency operations and any specific activities directed by the President or the Secretary of Defense.


9) U.S. Space Command (Newly Founded in 2019) – Commanded by General James H. Dickinson – U.S. Army
The U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) is responsible for military operations in outer space, specifically all operations above 100 kilometers above sea level. Their mission is "to conduct operations in, from and through space to deter conflict, and defeat aggression, deliver space combat power for the Joint/Combined force, and defend U.S. vital interests with allies and partners."  Currently they have no Headquarters. They represent a reemphasis on space as a war-fighting domain. The U.S. Space Command is different and separate from the newest and 6th military branch --- U. S. Space Force. It is not clear what is the 

10)  U.S. Strategic Command (Founded 1992) – Commanded by Admiral Charles Richard – U.S. Navy
The U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) HQ is at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska. It conducts global operations in partnership with other Combatant Commands, services and U.S. government agencies to deter and detect strategic attacks against the U.S. It is responsible for command of U.S. nuclear capabilities, space operations, global surveillance and reconnaissance, intelligence, communications, computers, global missile defense and combatting weapons of mass destruction.


11) U.S. Transportation Command (Founded 1987) – Commanded by General Jacqueline Van Ovost  U.S. Air Force
The U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) provides the Department of Defense (DoD) with an aggregate of transportation capabilities and assets. Together with commercial partnerships, it enables a diverse array of joint mobility missions.


For a more complete description, click on: www.defense.gov/Our-Story/Combatant-Commands

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