US Marine Corps Forces Central Command (MARCENT)
US Marine Forces Central Command (MARFORCENT)
US Marine Corps Forces Central Command (MARCENT) is designated as the Marine Corps service component for US Central Command (CENTCOM). MARCENT is responsible for all Marine Corps forces in the CENTCOM area of responsibility. MARCENT provides Marine Expeditionary Forces capable of conducting a wide range of operations, offering the command a responsive and unique set of capabilities.
During 1990s, there were 5 Marine Corps components, but there were only 2 Marine Corps component commands. The Commander, US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC) was assigned to the Commander in Chief, US Pacific Command. The Commander, MARFORPAC was also designated as the Marine Corps component commander to the Commander in Chief, US Central Command (CINCUSCENTCOM). Commander, MARFORPAC was also titled as Commander, US Marine Forces Central Command (MARFORCENT and later MARCENT), being responsible for the MARCENT area of responsibility.
The MARCENT area of responsibility included 25 nations of diverse political, economic, cultural and geographic make ups. The Central Region was an area larger than the Continental US, stretching more than 3,100 miles East-to-West and 3,400 miles North-to-South. It featured mountain ranges with elevations of more than 24,000 feet and desert areas below sea level, with temperatures ranging from below freezing to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf and part of the Indian Ocean were included in the region. Three of the world's major religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, had their roots there. The region contains the major maritime trade routes which linked the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Western Hemisphere. Petroleum products that fueled the economies of European and Asian allies passed through 3 maritime choke points in the region: the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Bab El Mandab.
As both Commander, MARFORPAC and Commander, MARCENT, the designated commander and his staff was located at Camp Smith, Hawaii. From there, Marine expeditionary forces capable of conducting a wide range of operations could be provided, offering both commands a responsive and unique set of capabilities. Marines embarked aboard US Navy amphibious ships deployed regularly to the region, organized as Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTF). As Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable), these forces provided a potent mix of capabilities that can project expeditionary combat power rapidly to any location in the region. While afloat in the Central Region, they served as a visible deterrent force, train continuously, and participate in a wide range of engagement activites. In addition to providing MAGTFs deployed aboard US Navy ships, MARCENT also had the proven capability to deploy MAGTFs to the Central Region by air or fast sea transport. These Marines could marry-up with prepositioned equipment, providing USCENTCOM with a rapid response capability across the spectrum of military operations.
In a clear demonstration of these capabilities, following the events of the 11 September 2011 and the inauguration of the Global War on Terror (later termed Overseas Contingency Operations), then Commander, MARFORPAC/Commander, MARCENT, Lieutenant General Earl B. Hailston moved, along with nearly half his staff of 500 Marines, to Bahrain in late January 2002. This was the first time the Marine Corps commander had his headquarters there, other than for training exercises. General Hailston kept more than 200 members of the staff at Camp H. M. Smith, and shuttled between Hawaii and Bahrain.
As the demands of operations in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, which by 2011 was comprised of 20 countries, 522 million people, 7 major languages and more than 12 major religions, increased, so did the demands on the Commander, MARCENT. Eventually, the decision was made to remove the command from the responsibilities of MARFORPAC and its commander and establish a free standing headquarters, which became US Marine Corps Forces Central Command (MARCENT).