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  Pacific Command


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Parents > United States > Unified Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff  
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Established January 01, 1947
Disbanded Still Active
ContributorGerald Farinas
Last ModifiedGerald Farinas April 30, 2004 01:58pm
DescriptionUnited States Pacific Command

The U.S. Pacific Command was established as a unified command on 1 January 1947, and it is the oldest and largest of the United States' unified commands. The present U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) includes areas originally assigned to two other unified commanders. Responsibilities of the Far East Command were assumed on 1 July 1957. That same day the command assumed some of the responsibilities of the Alaskan Command, and individual Army and Air Force component commands for the Pacific were established in Hawaii. In October 1957, the then Commander in Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC) headquarters was moved from Makalapa to Camp H.M. Smith, which is also the headquarters of the Commander, Marine Forces Pacific. CINCPAC also served concurrently as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet until January 1958, when the U.S. Pacific Fleet became a separate component with its own commander. Added responsibilities were assigned to CINCPAC on 1 January 1972 for military forces and elements in the Indian Ocean, Southern Asia, and the Arctic. The area of responsibility was further expanded on 1 May 1976 to the east coast of Africa. This enlarged the Pacific Command to more than 50 percent of the earth's surface, an area of over 100 million square miles. Another enlargement of the USPACOM area took place in October 1983 when CINCPAC was assigned responsibility for the People's Republic of China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Mongolia, and the Republic of Madagascar. CINCPAC was also redesignated U.S. Commander in Chief, Pacific Command (USCINCPAC). In 1986, the Goldwater-Nichols Reorganization Act expanded, as well as codified, the authority of the commanders of the unified commands to carry out their assigned missions and to employ combatant forces provided by the individual Services. The Alaskan Command at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, (which had been disestablished in 1975) was reestablished on 7 July 1989 as a subordinate unified command responsible to USCINCPAC. This placed the defense of Alaska and its surrounding waters under the leadership of one commander, providing a unity of command absent from the state since the early 1970s. From 1989 through 2000, three Unified Command Plans slightly reduced USPACOM's area of responsibility. With the focus of attention shifting to the Middle East, the 16 August 1989 plan assigned responsibility for the Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Aden to Commander, U.S. Central Command (CDRUSCENTCOM). The 1 January 1996 plan transferred the Seychelles and adjacent waters to USCENTCOM. On 1 October 2000, responsibility for Indian Ocean waters off Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa was transferred from USPACOM to U.S. European Command (USEUCOM). Approved in April 2002, the new Unified Command Plan became effective 1 October 2002. The Unified Command Plan changed as a result of the events of 11 September, 2001 and the ensuing war on terrorism, as well as the new defense strategy articulated in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review. For the first time the entire surface of the earth was divided among the various Unified Commands. A new U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) was created for homeland security and other changes in the various commands' responsibilities resulted in significant changes for USPACOM. The West Coast of North America was reassigned from USPACOM to USNORTHCOM. While Alaska was included in the reassignment to USNORTHCOM, Alaskan Command forces remained assigned to USPACOM. While all of geographic Russia is included in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) area of responsibility, USPACOM, in coordination with USEUCOM, retains responsibility for noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO), counterterrorism (CT) planning for U.S. diplomatic missions, and force protection in those areas in the Russian Federation east of 100 East longitude. A Memorandum of Understanding signed between USEUCOM and USPACOM outlines Theater Security Cooperation responsibilities in eastern Russia. Antarctica was also added to USPACOM's area of responsibility. Effective 24 October 2002, by direction of the Secretary of Defense, the title "Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command" was changed to "Commander, U.S. Pacific Command" (CDRUSPACOM).

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