CENTCOM Smart Power in The Middle East

By: LTC Hany Mohamed, EGY ARMY (CSAG/CCJ5)

12 May 2023



This year USCENTCOM celebrates the 40th anniversary of its establishment; one of its significant tasks is to achieve and enhance security and stability within its area of responsibility (AOR). USCENTCOM AOR includes 21 countries.

The Middle East (ME) region is one of the most important subsets of CENTCOM AOR because of its geostrategic importance to the whole world. In addition, the ME is the very location of strategic competition, where we can see some indications of changing the global order caused by the recent Chinese mediation between KSA and Iran. The regional countries in the ME are seeking to implement a new policy supporting their agendas, much like the new KSA foreign policy towards its neighbors following the statement of “zero problems” with neighbors to achieve the 2030 vision.

According to international relations and political science, when relations between countries are volatile and murky, there are many theories and approaches to apply with this issue to preserve the common interests between states, allies, and partners. One of them is applying smart power tools as a “vaccine”. This is what CENTCOM is trying to implement this in the Middle East. Consequently, the topic “CENTCOM Smart Power in The Middle East” is worth examining. It covers the following aspects:

  • The main types of power in international relations.
  • Smart power and CENTCOM’s approach.
  • The challenges facing CENTCOM’s approach.
  • Conclusion.
  • Recommendations to enhance CENTCOM smart power in the ME.


Key Points:

  • CENTCOM uses smart power in the Middle East to promote regional stability and advance U.S. interests.
  • Smart power is the combination of military and non-military means to achieve national objectives.
  • CENTCOM’s smart power approach in the Middle East is represented in its strategic approach.
  • “People” are the greatest asset in CENTCOM as an organization, while “Partners” involves working with regional partners and allies to achieve common goals, and “Innovation” involves using technology and new approaches to enhance security and stability.
  • Challenges and obstacles facing CENTCOM’s smart power approach in The Middle East include political and cultural differences, regional conflicts, terrorism, and extremism.
  • To enhance its smart power approach, CENTCOM should prioritize cultural understanding, strengthen regional partnerships, leverage technology, focus on human security, and build on its successes.


Read the complete paper here.

View other USCENTCOM Combined Strategic Analysis Group (CSAG) papers here.

The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of a number of international officers within the Combined Strategic Analysis Group (CSAG) and do not necessarily reflect the views of United States Central Command, not of the nations represented within the CSAG or any other governmental agency.