United States Joint Forces Command
If the U.S. military were a movie, United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) might be the producer, or at least the producer's executive agent. In cinema, producers pull together the writers and directors and actors and technical experts. In the U.S. military, the other Unified Combatant Commands (UCC) carry out regional or functional operations. Service-specific components provide the UCCs with trained and ready resource in that area, but no service is responsible for bringing together the joint, interagency, and multinational capabilities to meet operational needs. When a crisis breaks out in an area, or there is a new policy initiative, USJFCOM provides the "surge" planners and staff, while helping organize the mission-focused joint task force that will address the specific need. In other words, USJFCOM's is responsible for readiness to respond to the unexpected.
General Ray Odierno, U.S. Army, was named to replace GEN James Mattis, USMC as USJFCOM commander, as Mattis goes to United States Central Command as Gen. David Petraeus moved from CENTCOM to the Afghanistan command. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, however, announced, on 10 August 2010, that he was closing USJFCOM as part of cost-cutting moves. Gates said Odierno would preside over the closing, and then Gates would find him an even better job.
As DoD’s joint force provider, USJFCOM assigns nearly all conventional forces based in the continental United States, providing trained and capable forces to commanders in the field. Building a joint force requires a considerable degree of coordination with active, National Guard and reserve elements of the armed forces to ensure the deployment of a task-organized integrated team. A joint force may also include elements of the U.S. Coast Guard.
It is not the UCC responsible for actual homeland defense operations; that is the role of United States Northern Command. It is the responsibility of USJFCOM to ensure that each UCC has the ability to respond to the unexpected. The command also supports NATO; its commander was Supreme Allied Commander Transformation until that role went to a French officer.
The command has numerous ways to propagate ideas: unclassified professional journals such as Joint Forces Quarterly, focused and sometimes classified position papers. It heads what is a research and educational organization, the set of joint laboratories and schools.
With the end of the Cold War, and with fewer conventional threats facing our country, the challenge of fighting new enemies demands new ways of thinking. A classic military mistake is focusing on improving the way to fight the last war, and, after dealing with the Cold War, U.S. doctrine still emphasizes operations similar to those of World War II and the Iraq War. At the same time, there cannot be too much emphasis on meeting politically perceived crisis of the day, such as the "Global War on Terror". USJFC is responsible for leading transformation that will:
- Protect the U.S. homeland and our forces overseas
- Project and sustain power in distant theatres
- Deny our enemies sanctuary
- Protect our own information networks from attack.
- Use information technology to link up different kinds of U.S. forces so they can fight jointly.
- Maintain unhindered access to space and protect our space capabilities from enemy attack
The command speaks of four mission areas, in which the first three clearly feed the fourth — and lessons learned in the fourth guide the first three. It also is the facilitator of information flow among them; it has the responsibility for integrating and finding gaps in command and control
The command’s support teams serve an important role in determining and documenting gaps in existing and planned service capabilities and recommending appropriate solutions, while also providing immediate support. USJFCOM also searches for opportunities to develop new joint enabling capabilities that can accelerate the establishment and immediate effectiveness of JTF headquarters and related joint organizations.
USJFCOM is "the incubator for new transformational concepts to build the military of the 21st century." As a result of the 2002 Unified Command Plan, the USJFCOM missions are:
- Joint Force Provider
- Joint Force Integrator
- Joint Force Trainer
- Joint Concept Development and Experimentation
Joint force provider
The command provides conventional forces, including, as of October 2006, managing the assignment of individual augmentees to deployed units. It also provides building blocks around which ad hoc joint task forces can form.
Developing robust joint command and control capabilities
Foundation: Standing Joint Force Headquarters – Core Element
Two SJFHQ-CE groups, Alpha and Beta, can deploy to a regional UCC, and are there to help integrate air, land, maritime and information capabilities during the establishment of a joint task force headquarters (JTF HQ). They support, not replace, a two- or three-star headquarters, especially with joint and multinational coordination when the supported headquarters is from one service or branch.
The SJFHQ-CE elements drew in resources to set up a joint task force headquarters, and then returned to USJFCOM to await the next crisis. Once the headquarters is formed, these core elements can withdraw to reconstitute and prepare for the next assignment.
Representative SJFHQ-CE deployments include:
- Joint Task Force Katrina: Sep-Oct 2005
- Multi-National Force-Iraq: May-July 2005
- Combined Disaster Assistance Center Pakistan: October-November 2005
- Multi-National Corps-Iraq: March 2005-January 2006
- Joint Task Force Lebanon: August-September 2006
- Doha Asian Games, Doha, Qatar: October-December 2006
- International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan: June-November 2006
- Task Force Paladin: April-June 2006
- Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa: March-July 2005 and June 2006-present
- U.S. Central Command Crisis Response Alert Order: February 2007-present
- Numerous joint training exercises
Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE)
JCSE can globally deploy within hours of notification to provide command, control, communications and computers (C4) support to RCCs and U.S. Special Operations Command. JCSE provides communications packages tailored to the specific needs of a full joint task force headquarters and/or a joint special operations task force.
Joint Public Affairs Support Element (JPASE)
Public affairs is a highly visible part of information operations. In a 24/7 world news environment, getting out clear messages, and also taking responsibility for problems, is a specialist job, more functional than regional. When a crisis breaks out in a region, it may not have the teams to deal with a journalistic feeding frenzy; JPASE provide cat herders.
In 2006, they provided support for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Pakistan earthquake relief operations, and American citizen evacuation of Lebanon.
Intelligence Quick Reaction Team (I-QRT)
Joint Transformation Command for Intelligence (JTC-I), based in Norfolk, Va., supports field operations. While other forces do not have Intelligence Components, this is the role of Joint Forces Intelligence Command
QRT provide military and civilian intelligence professionals with targeting and collection management expertise to a JTF rapidly or during events leading up to crisis or contingency operations.
Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team
JFIIT) provided joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and close air support training to six U.S. Army brigade combat teams preparing for their mission rehearsal exercises at the National Training Center. To improve individual joint fires training capability, JFIIT provided subject matter expertise for six distance learning modules for the Joint Knowledge Development and Distribution Capability.
U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM) Joint Warfighting Center (JWFC) in Suffolk, Va. Coordinates the military's overall joint training efforts to ensure it is the most advanced and powerful force in the world.
One of the hardest parts of training is learning from experience. After an experience, what worked? what did not work? USJFCOM is the apex of a series of organizations that pass on hard-won institutional knowledge, with correcting deficiencies a positive experience, rather than punishment.
Many lessons, for example, were learned from the early phases of the Gulf War. One of them was that there had been somewhat wishful thinking about the security of the weaponry of a collapsed military state.  The General Accountability Office, working at the policy investigation level for Congress, concluded:
given little focus to mitigating the risk to U.S. forces posed by an adversary's conventional munitions storage sites in future operations planning. Instead, the department's actions in response to OIF lessons learned generally have emphasized countering the use of improvised explosived devices (IED)s by an insurgency or terrorists during post-hostility operations. Without appropriate joint doctrine, policy, guidance, and procedures, DOD cannot ensure that OIF lessons learned regarding the security of an adversary's conventional munitions storage sites will be a strategic planning and priority-setting consideration that is integrated into future operations planning and execution, so that these
munitions do not become the source of materials for making IEDs.
These GAO recommendations should become joint policy, and, while some of the policy will come from the level of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, USJFCOM will develop and teach the lessons about things to do at the end of combat:
- conduct a theaterwide survey and
risk assessment regarding unsecured conventional munitions in Iraq)
- report ensuing risk mitigation strategies and results to Congress
- incorporate consideration of conventional munitions storage sites
security into all levels of planning policy and guidance, including joint doctrine, instructions, manuals, and other directives.
USJFCOM provides joint force commanders with deployable support teams capable of:
- Understanding the operational environment
- Planning fully integrated joint operations
- Coordinating unified actions with appropriate mission partners
- Preparing appropriate implementing directives and orders for subordinate tactical formations
- Rapidly adjusting operational-level plans based on analysis and assessment
Joint Concept Developer and Experimenter
New technologies constantly enter the military. New players, perhaps bringing unique abilities, also are entering the military. How are these to be integrated into a playbook? How are the lessons learned by retiring personnel to be passed along?
For example, there is an ongoing Restructuring of the United States Army. Part of that restructuring includes new thinking about air and missile defense, including not just defending against airplanes and missiles, but extending capabilities to counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar fire. When the Air Force and the Navy have suppressed opposing air forces near their bases, threats still remain. How, for example, should long-range theater ballistic missile integrate the systems of the Army (air defense artillery), Navy and Air Force?
It also is responsible for domestic commands that prepare service components:
- Craig Whitlock (10 August 2010), "Pentagon to cut thousands of jobs, defense secretary says", Washington Post
- United States Joint Forces Command, Command mission and strategic goals
- Operation Iraqi Freedom: DOD Should Apply Lessons Learned Concerning the Need for Security over Conventional Munitions Storage Sites to Future Operations Planning, March 22, 2007, GAO-07-639T