The United States Central Commandís Role in
the Middle East
U.S. CENTCOM humanitarian mine action program provides a
successful interaction between US military trainers, the host
country, the indigenous community
and the non-governmental organizations while ridding the host country
of landmines. Their train-the-trainer approach insures that there
is an indigenous demining operation in place before U.S. forces
exit the country.
by Margaret S. Busť, Editor
There are 25 countries in the United
States Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility. Fourteen of
these countries are considered mine affected. CENTCOM has demining
programs in Egypt, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritea, Jordan, Yemen and Oman.
The distance between CENTCOM headquarters at MacDill AFB in Tampa,
Florida and the countries in their region poses a challenge in the
development and management of training programs. Long-range planning
through comprehensive demining plans outlining the Department of Defense
(DOD) and host nation requirements is one of the significant ways
CENTCOM successfully manages its programs.
The process for a
country initiating a demining program is straightforward. For military
demining assistance, there needs to be coordination between multiple
players such as the Department of State, Department of Defense, Country
teams, U.S. military trainers, host nations and component commands.
A country-training program is managed
using a 24-month time line, though a command representative said that they have "cut down the time frame quite a
bit." The process starts when a host nation formally requests assistance
through an ambassador or through the U.S. Embassy. The formal request
goes to the State Department and is reviewed by the US Government
Interagency Subgroup for Humanitarian Mine Action to ensure the
ē Has a stable government
currently in place.
ē Is not currently planting
landmines or has insurgent groups who are using them.
ē Is capable of sustaining the
program once properly trained.
The mission of all the regional
commands is to conduct humanitarian demining training operations within
the area of responsibility. This is carried out by executing Department
of Defense demining programs in the host country, coordinating the U.S
participation and conducting assessments for humanitarian programs and
mine action technologies. The mission of the regional commandsí
demining programs links directly to the U.S national security strategy
of promoting prosperity in the host nation, enhancing security and
stability and promoting democracy.
programs, which are tailored to the specific needs of the host nation,
have been successful for CENTCOM and the host nations. This success is
based upon the host nation taking "ownership" of the demining
operation. "They know this is a program that they will have to
sustain. They need an infrastructure that will be able to maintain the
program. We are not infinite and we canít promise to be. We are there
to help them set up an indigenous program with the goal of becoming a
mine safe nation," states Peggie Murray, CENTCOM Humanitarian
Assistance / Demining Branch Chief.
CENTCOM also promotes the involvement of NGOs and
private voluntary organizations to supplement their efforts and that
provides a win-win situation for all involved. Tim Kennedy of CENTCOM
mentions a recent effort saying, "When we arrived in Egypt, we
coordinated with the UNDP, several
donor nations, and the US Country Team to prevent a duplication of
effort in the area." Peggie Murray adds, "It is also important
that the military works with the host country and donor organizations so
that programs are not left without completion when we leave. We also
encourage the host nations to pursue donor money so that their mine
action programs can be sustained." By involving the host nation and
the available agencies in-country, CENTCOM provides a holistic approach
to the demining efforts with an outstanding engagement opportunity for
the U.S Special Forces who carry out humanitarian demining operations
for the U.S.
While CENTCOM does not use a "one
size fits all" plan to their demining operations,
program also fosters good will and trust among all the people
involved. It gives the U.S. Military a chance to show through
example-how we work and how we function. We are not there
imposing democracy, but exposing it through our endeavors."
Peggie Murray, Program Manager, CENTCOM, Branch Cgief
they approach mine action in
PHASE 1 SURVEY AND PLANNING
PHASE 2 INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT
PHASE 3 TRAINING
PHASE 4 SUSTAINMENT
The survey and planning phase includes
assessment, Status of Forces agreements and the allocation of resources.
During infrastructure development equipment is purchased, facilities
renovated, U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) are trained, manpower
requirements within the host nation are identified and all involved are
prepared for demining training.
It is during the train-the-trainer
phase that the training of the indigenous population is conducted by
U.S. SOF. U.S. soldiersí availability for the operation is one of the
humanitarian demining programís biggest challenges. " This is a
great mission for Special Operations Forces. They have the training and language
skills and it gives us a chance to interact positively with another
culture," states Dr. Al Childress of CENTCOM.
The sustainment phase includes
technical support team visits, providing re-training as necessary and
encouraging donor support for continued success of the program. Since
1994, CENTCOM has trained approximately 530 trainers in seven countries
to UN International standards and has donated over $5 million (U.S.) of
equipment. This is in addition to The Department of State donations.
Humanitarian assistance efforts
throughout the CENTCOM Area of Operations can be expected to increase.
"Our situation right now is we are getting ready to support the UN
in humanitarian assistance. Our future goals will not change. The
majority of all efforts will be humanitarian. We will continue to
respond to humanitarian situations regardless of September 11th.
I donít expect the programs to end. The military has a valuable
contribution to the demining world, and I donít see that changing-it
may increase. Throughout the government you will see a large increase in
humanitarian efforts. You will see the military working side by side
with nations," says Peggie Murray.
CENTCOM is encouraging countries to
request U.S. humanitarian demining support. The humanitarian demining
program is viewed as the one of the best opportunities to help people
help themselves, develop long-term relationships, save life and limb and
promote a mine-safe world. The humanitarian demining program is and will
continue to be a primary tool for military-to-military and
MacDill Air Force Base,
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