Vince Little / Stars and Stripes – 2008-02-22 23:32:56
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (February 19, 2008) — US Army Central is establishing a permanent platform for “full spectrum operations” in 27 countries around southwest Asia and the Middle East, its commander says.
Lt. Gen. James J. Lovelace said the Army has diverse capabilities here now but plans to reach a complete level of operational effectiveness by July.
The restructuring, which offers more flexibility for offensive, defensive and stability operations, is a major piece of transformation worldwide, said Lovelace.
“It’s the first Army command to do this,” said Lovelace, who also heads the Coalition Forces Land Component. “Now, we’re not only operational but the Army has committed other assets.”
They include the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), 335th Signal Command, 513th Military Intelligence Brigade, 352nd Civil Affairs Group, and a Navy medical command.
“They regionally focus on this area. That was not always the case,” said Lovelace, who took command in mid-December. “These commands now have a permanent responsibility to this theater. They’ll have a permanent presence here. The personnel will change; the commands will remain.
“In the past, the Army had forces that aligned themselves, but nothing as neat and clean as we have now.”
The 3rd Army participated in the drive to Baghdad five years ago but was renamed US Army Central in October 2006. Officials opted to keep the old patch as a nod to the 3rd’s rich tradition, which dates to Gen. George Patton.
The former setup limited this headquarters in certain ways, Lovelace said. Today, USARCENT has combined assets allowing the Army to project command and control throughout the region.
“This is not the 3rd Army of the 1990s, or the one that went to Baghdad. It’s been improved upon significantly,” he said. “Our communications platforms have become more robust. We are a multifunctional headquarters. Now, we can do them all, and do them well.”
“That’s full spectrum operations,” he added. “We’re able to adapt better … and go from high-intensity to regular warfare. We can also handle humanitarian efforts.”
Col. Michael A. Carroll, USARCENT’s chief of staff, said the command has a footprint in 22 of the area’s 27 countries, where it conducts theater security engagements, peacekeeping and exercises with other militaries.
Among targeted objectives, he said: Helping Kenya deal with volatility in neighboring Somalia, facilitating Patriot missiles in Qatar and Bahrain to discourage attacks from Iran, and assisting Kuwait with plans to start a navy.
“We’ve got to help them work on various issues,” Carroll said. “It’s all about capacity building.”
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,” he said. “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.”
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