CENTCOM Command should incorporate Israel
CENTCOM Command should incorporate Israel

Have you ever suffered the embarrassment of dancing only to have the seam of your pants break when you were trying to impress with your dance moves.  The moral of this story is that the seam is always the weakest link, and the most likely to fail when the pressure is on. 

What does this have to do with US Middle East USCENTCOM combatant command structure?  Everything!  For the US Combatant Command’s Areas of Responsibilities has been structured in such a way as to put Israel on the seam of three different US Combatant commands.  But Israel is now the weakest link of the US Combatant Command instead of the strongest link.  And, if the arch-foe of CENTCOM is Iran, Israel should be the center of CENTCOM’s defense architecture.

What is the US Combatant Command?  The world is broken up into various “Areas of Responsibility” under which the various US regional commands operate and that they are “responsible” for.  For instance, US Central Command, or CENTCOM, is responsible for the Middle East.  But, where logically Israel is part of the Middle East, Israel is attached to US European Command or EUCOM.  For even more confusion, Egypt is part of CENTCOM even though it is to the west of Israel.  Egypt is not part of Africa Command, and neither is Israel. 

Israel is disconnected from both AFRICOM, and CENTCOM, and geographically separated from EUCOM.  Israel sits astride a triple-witching seam between EUCOM, CENTCOM, and AFRICOM.  Israel is, in effect, the black hole, or orphan-child, of the US Combatant Command when it really should be the core of the CENTCOM command structure, critically connecting to EUCOM.

The time is riipe for change. While for the last 30 years Israel was politically hated by the Sunni Muslim countries, Israel now stands as the pivot point hub of any effective defense against Iran.  Therefore, the time has come for the US Combatant command structure to politically morph to meet this new reality.  Nothing would put greater fear into the Iranian ayatollahs than US CENTCOM absorbing and projecting Israel as the key organic component of CENTCOM.  More importantly, it is vital for the United States to actively project to the Arabs of the Levant and Egypt that Israel is a vital component to the Arabs’ protection.

More ominously, most American generals earn their stripes through CENTCOM because that’s where the action is, and hence the promotions.  Because Israel isn’t in CENTCOM the fastest-rising generals don’t see Israel as America’s true asset because all the Muslim generals carp about Israel as the “problem” rather the solution. Hence, the most successful generals tend to see Israel subjectively through the lens of Muslim military-men complaints rather than objectively as the sole stable lighthouse of democracy and hope.

However vital Israel, then-Palestine, was to the British Empire in the early 20th Century, it is orders of magnitude more vital to the security of the United States in the 21st Century.
While politics strongly argues for Israel’s CENTCOM incorporation, militarily, Israel is the heart and soul of any US defense of the Arabs against Iran.  Alexander Haig who served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and US Secretary State was famously quoted as saying, “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security.”  Today, Israel isn’t worth just one aircraft carrier, but a dozen aircraft carriers to the US combatant command. 

Israel stands on both the north-south crossroads of the Eastern Mediterranean, and the East-West transverse of Europe-Greece-Israel-Saudi Arabia-Iran.

One of the greatest historians, Barbara Tuchman, explained in her “Bible and the Sword,” that the British purpose in helping establish the bedrock of the future Israel was:

“To Protestant England it [Israel] was not only, as Lord Curzon said, the ‘holiest space of ground on the face of the globe,’ the land of Scriptures, the land of the Crusades, the land ‘to which all our faces are turned when we are finally laid in our graves in the churchyard.”  It was also the geographical junction between East and West, the bridgehead between three continents, the focal point in the strategy of [the British] empire, the area necessary to the defense of the Suez Canal, the road to India and the oil fields of Mosul[and of the entire Arab Gulf].” 

However vital Israel, then-Palestine, was to the British Empire in the early 20th Century, it is orders of magnitude more vital to the security of the United States in the 21st Century.

Therefore, in conclusion, the United States should incorporate Israel directly into CENTCOM’s Area of Responsibility.  It’s way past time to stop the fiction that Israel is not America’s true center of strategic gravity to the defense of the Middle East and our moderate Sunni allies.  The US Department of Defense’s failure to truly integrate Israel into the defense of the Arabs from Iran will only significantly weaken America’s defense of the Arabs.