US Central Command - CENTCOM - is one of ten combatant commands in the US military, with an area of responsibility that covers Middle East and Central Asia. One of the tasks of ICRC Washington is to engage with its leadership on humanitarian issues of ICRC concern.
The ICRC-CENTCOM relationship started in 2005 as an extension of the operational dialogue the organization already had with the US military in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Pentagon.
Today's interaction with CENTCOM is framed around confidential dialogue on detention and conduct of hostilities in Afghanistan as monitored by the ICRC in-theatre. Washington and various field delegations, including Iraq in the past, regularly brief CENTCOM commanders on our operations in key contexts covered by the command. One such context is Yemen, a country that falls within CENTCOM's area of responsibility and where the ICRC is today the main humanitarian actor on the ground.
In addition to our field-level dialogue in Afghanistan, we generally visit Tampa with Kabul and Geneva colleagues twice a year. The objective is to have face-to-face discussions on humanitarian issues of concern with CENTCOM commanders, Judge Advocates Generals and other deciders. Other delegations, such as Yemen, may also travel to Tampa to brief senior officers on their operations.
As head of the ICRC in North America, Mary Werntz is responsible for the relationship with the US military, including CENTCOM and other combatant commands. During this last visit to Tampa on January 20th, our Afghanistan team was represented by head of delegation Reto Stocker. Eric Marclay, head of the ICRC in Yemen, also participated, as did delegates based in Geneva and Washington.
This three-part post looks at our interaction with CENTCOM, an important part of the privileged dialogue the ICRC has developed with the US military over the past ten years.
First up for this look at how and why we work with the US military in the United States and with CENTCOM in particular is Mary Werntz, head of the ICRC delegation in Washington.