Central Command looks to mobile system

Although the U.S. Central Command can work with its existing command and control system, it needs a more deployable system to fulfill its mission most effectively, according to Army Gen. Tommy Franks, Central Command commander in chief.

The Central Command, one of nine unified commands in the Defense Department, is charged with responding to national security threats in one of the world's most volatile regions. Its area of responsibility includes 25 nations stretching from northeastern Africa through the Persian Gulf region and into central Asia.

Franks explained that when military forces know who and where they will be fighting, they can build the necessary infrastructure. But the Central Command, which faces a wide range of potential threats in a diverse and sprawling region, is unable to do that.

"It doesn't make fiscal sense to go to a dozen different places and try to build an infrastructure on the ground to move into," Franks said at an Association of the U.S. Army breakfast in Crystal City, Va. "So what Central Command needs to do is to build a deployable capability so that we can load it onto the back of a C-17 and go wherever we need to go. That's the project we're working on now."

However, in June, one Central Command official suggested that the U.S. military should build more of an information infrastructure in the Middle East to alleviate its dependency on satellite communications.

The problem, according to Army Brig. Gen. Dennis Moran, director of command, control and computer systems for Central Command, is that friendly nations in the region are wary of any hint of a permanent American presence, which they feel would signal intentions to forcibly occupy their territory.

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