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The US military has geographically divided up the world into six regional “commands.” Northern Command, which was created in the wake of the September 11 attacks, is based in NORAD in Colorado. European Command is based in Stuttgart, Germany, so it is right in the middle of its area of responsibility (AOR). Pacific Command has as its AOR, the Pacific Ocean, Australia, and Southeast Asia, so it is well placed in Hawaii. Southern Command is in charge of controlling Latin America. Until 1997, it was located in Panama, but since the Panama Canal Treaty, SOUTHCOM was forced to relocate to Miami, Florida, because no country in the region would host it. However, it is at least still close to the region it is responsible for. That leaves Central Command and Africa Command. 

CENTCOM has been the busiest command since 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. At the time, many observers thought CENTCOM would take the opportunity to relocate itself to Kuwait, but it stayed in its home base in Tampa, Florida. Basing an entire command in its AOR may not be necessary nor even productive anymore. The new paradigm seems to be instead of one major headquarters, having many smaller ones dotted around the AOR. This is a new concept that the CENTCOM is trying out in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa. The commander, General Lovelace said, the war on terror and a need to be more operationally focused compelled the Army to alter its approach. "You don't have the element of time on your side anymore, like we did in the Cold War. We've got to be ready tonight. That's why now you have that broader commitment. This is a big, dynamic theater. We track little hot spots in a time that's exceedingly important to our nation." George Bush's current trip to Africa is being seen by some as laying the groundwork for the same diversified command structure for AFRICACOM, which is currently located in Germany. Bush has denied this even though every country he has visited has expressed interest in having AFRICACOM set up its base there. However, Bush did clarify that "that doesn't mean we won't develop some kind of office somewhere in Africa."

 

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