U.S. Central Command: a timeline
Jan. 1, 1983: United States Central Command is established as an offshoot of the former Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force. Its first commander was Army Gen. Robert Kingston.
1983-1988: CentCom's first combat operations are during the Iraqi war, which underlines growing tensions in the region.
Late 1988: Regional strategy still focused on the potential threat from a massive Soviet invasion of Iran. Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the new CentCom commander, saw this scenario as far less likely and focused his attention on the possible emergence of a new regional threat — Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
August 1990: U.S. President George Bush responded quickly to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. A timely deployment of forces and the formation of a coalition deterred Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia.
Jan. 17, 1991: CentCom, now focused on the liberation of Kuwait, launched Operation Desert Storm with a massive air campaign. A cease-fire was declared just 100 hours after the start of the ground campaign.
April 1991: The start of Operation Provide Comfort to provide humanitarian assistance to the Kurds and enforce a "no-fly" zone in Iraq, north of the 36th parallel.
August 1992: Operation Southern Watch began in response to Hussein's failure to comply with U.N. Security Council Resolution 688 condemning his repression of Iraqi civilians in southeastern Iraq.
1992: To combat the growing threat of regional terrorism in Africa and prevent widespread starvation in the face of clan warfare, CentCom launched Operation Provide Relief to supply humanitarian assistance to Somalia and northeastern Kenya. CentCom's Operation Restore Hope supported United Nations resolutions. But the situation in Mogadishu worsened and 19 American troops were killed in the Battle of Mogadishu.
1996: The bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. airmen, is one example of a decade of jihadi attacks that rocked CentCom forces in the region.
1998: Terrorists attacked the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 250 people, including 12 Americans.
October 2000: An attack on the Navy ship USS Cole, resulting in the deaths of 17 U.S. sailors, was linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization.
Sept. 11, 2001: CentCom begins to change its strategy to fight al-Qaida and other jihadi groups in the wake of terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that kill more than 3,000.
Source: U.S. Central Command website