Rebalancing Engagement in CENTCOM’s Area

While US forces are engaging in the monumental task of drawing down from their decade-plus presence in Afghanistan, US Central Command officials are also scrutinizing plans for future presence and engagement in the region, said Brig. Gen. Jeff Harrigian, CENTCOM’s deputy director of operations. CENTCOM leadership is taking a hard look at what forces the command needs for operations and activities in its area of responsibility beyond the Fiscal 2015 planning cycle, particularly in the core surrounding the Arabian Gulf states, Harrigian told the Daily Report in an Aug. 6 telephone interview. While the United States needs to maintain a ground presence, it will look very different than it did during the Iraq war when CENTCOM oversaw large-footprint counterinsurgency forces and a vast network of bases. “The amounts and numbers of forces we had previously . . . are coming down,” said Harrigian. Flexibility, interoperability, and speed will be even more important with a wider range of contingencies to confront, he said. “What’s largely driving our mindset is we have to have a forward presence to execute what we’ve been asked to do” and to be “able to respond quickly,” said Harrigian.