Desert Shield at Sea: What the Navy Really Did

By Marvin Pokrant | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Selection of ComUSNavCent

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf could have put a single officer in charge of all naval forces—Navy and Marine—afloat or ashore. He chose not to do this. Instead, Schwarzkopf designated two separate commands, just as the peacetime Central Command (CentCom) had separate Navy and Marine Corps components. USCinCCent’s component commanders’ peacetime duties included drawing up contingency plans, participating in exercises and war games, and maintaining “corporate memory” of scenarios and “situational awareness” of factors important for likely contingencies in the Central Command. In addition, one of the primary roles of a service component commander was to advise how best to use his forces. Three of Schwarzkopf’s service component commanders had served in that capacity prior to Desert Shield: Lt. Generals Walter “Walt” Boomer, USMC (ComUSMarCent), John Yeosock, USA (ComUSArCent), and Chuck Horner (ComUSCentAF). The naval forces were different. For the reader to understand why, we need to relate some history.

Peacetime arrangements for the naval component commander of CentCom were more complex than in other theaters and more complicated than the other service components in CentCom. In the largest unified commands—the Pacific, Atlantic, and European commands—the naval component command had substantial forces assigned to it at all times. Also, the command’s primary mission was to support its unified commander. CentCom differed, partly because it had few naval forces permanently assigned. Also, the commander in chief resided in Tampa, Florida, rather than in the theater, where the few permanently assigned naval forces were located.

ComUSNavCent, established in 1983, had a rather small staff and resided in Pearl Harbor. Distance and the time difference between Pearl Harbor and Tampa hampered ComUSNavCent’s relationship with USCinCCent. On the other hand, ComUSNavCent had close relations with the Commander in Chief of the Pacific

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