FAS Note: See also this Pentagon press briefing on the new Unified Command Plan.
U.S. Department of Defense
No. 188-02
April 17, 2002


Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers today announced changes to the Unified Command Plan (UCP) that establishes the missions and geographic responsibilities for combatant commanders.

The revised plan includes changes that accomplish the following:

Creates a new combatant command, U.S. Northern Command, and assigns it the mission of defending the United States and supporting the full range of military assistance to civil authorities.

Shifts U.S. Joint Forces Command's geographic area of responsibility to the U.S. Northern Command and U.S. European Command. This enables U.S. Joint Forces Command to focus on transforming U.S. military forces.

Effective Oct. 1, 2002, the plan also designates geographic areas of responsibilities for all combatant commanders and assigns them responsibility for security cooperation and military coordination with all countries in the region.

Title 10 of The United States Code requires that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff review, not less than every two years, the missions and responsibilities (including geographic boundaries), of each combatant command and recommend to the president, through the secretary of defense, any necessary changes. The current unified command plan was approved in September 1999. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 and the ensuing war on terrorism, as well as the new defense strategy articulated in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review, highlighted the requirement to further adjust the plan.

The Unified Command Plan provides guidance to all combatant commanders, establishes their missions and responsibilities and delineates the general geographic area of responsibility for combatant commanders.

A map showing the areas of responsibility is available on the web at