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Pentagon May Name Admiral To Head Central Command

July 12, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Naval action in the Persian Gulf is helping build sentiment in the Pentagon to appoint an admiral to head the U.S. Central Command, headquarters for American forces in the region, military sources said Tuesday.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff were divided over who should head the command, and the chairman, Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., sent the names of an admiral and an Army general to Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci.

The Navy nominee to head the Central Command is Vice Adm. Henry C. Mustin, the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Plans, Policy and Operations, sources said. They identified the Army nominee as Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans.

Carlucci is expected to make a decision well before the current commander, Marine Gen. George B. Crist, steps aside this November, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Crist has headed Central Command since 1985.

Since the command was created in 1983, assuming most of the functions of the Rapid Deployment Force, the top spot has been rotated between the Army and the Marine Corps. But because the Navy has dominated the action in the Persian Gulf, many in the Pentagon believe the job should go to an admiral.

The command has its headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Fla., although it maintains virtually constant radio contact with the overall commander of Naval forces in the gulf, Rear Adm. Anthony Less, aboard his flagship, the USS Coronado.

Sentiment to name an admiral to head the command arose before the downing of an Iran Air jetliner with 290 people aboard on July 3, said the sources.

Central Command is a unified joint command in which all Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps forces in a jurisdiction are under the command of an officer chosen from one of the services.

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