Joint Task Force Lessons Learned

SLIDE 1 (Title)

I. Introduction

1. Tie-in: As you learned in the two previous classes, Joint Task Forces and Intelligence Support to Joint Task Forces, the U.S. military's adaptation to joint operations has had significant growing pains. Capt Frank Notz, the CO of our sister school, the Navy-Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center, provided us with some lessons learned from his experience as a former J-2 (both standing and crisis). We gained additional insight from COL Ron Carter, USA, who was J-2 of Operation Provide Promise from Jul-Nov 93.

2. Objective Statement: Recognize common problems inherent in JTF JIC startups, and become better prepared to assume duty in a Joint Intelligence Center

3. Safety Statement: The risk assessment code for this lesson is low IV.

4. Purpose: To provide the MIOAC officer with an understanding of the requirements for starting a JIC in order to support a crisis JTF, and expose them to the challenges, opportunities, and pitfalls experienced by their predecessors.

5. Procedure: During this class I will share and discuss observations of previous J-2's and reinforce the concepts presented in JTF's and Support to Joint Operations.

II. Development.

SLIDE 2 (JTF Life Cycle)

1. Joint Task Forces have a life cycle. Standing JTF's can be renamed and reorganized (CENTCOM was initially called the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force-RDJTF). JTF's are very popular when the crisis seems to be the only game in town, but as the mission drags on (like the JTF which remains engaged in Operation Provide Comfort in Northwestern Iraq) they lose their luster. Capt Notz meant for this slide to be humorous, but you will recognize several of these steps as being presented earlier, such as "Evolve to the New (unstated) Mission" as a description of "mission creep"). The term mission creep has even made it into Army doctrine, and is included in the latest edition of FM 34-1 (Intelligence Synthesis and Analysis).

SLIDE 2 (Life Cycle)
SLIDE 3 (JTF Facts of Life)

JTF's, particularly crisis JTF's, can take many forms through their life cycle. They follow an accordion principle, shrinking or growing depending on the priorities of the CINC and the J-2, and on the evolving mission. They spin up in order to focus on a particular crisis, and their tasking charter is initially very explicit as to the definition of the mission. Personnel assigned to a JTF have a mission orientation that is difficult to achieve in normal peacetime units--they have little or no unit housekeeping to accomplish. For example, the normal "tax" on units caused by garrison and higher headquarters demands for reports, formations, working parties, etc., are basically non-existent. JTF staffs have the opportunity to tap service expertise, and "good jointness" means that if a naval gunfire plan is being drafted, a Navy officer is present to offer a level of expertise that would not be otherwise available. The JTF's in Somalia (RESTORE HOPE) and Haiti (RESTORE DEMOCRACY) had their missions and ROE's changed within hours of landing in their respective AO's. Another fact of life is that due to the demands of our civilian leadership (i.e., Congress), JTF's are "politically correct." You can expect that if a component headquarters becomes a JTF staff, key staff members will be forced to yield their positions to officers from other services, regardless of their expertise and the obvious loss in continuity. The Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) headquarters in Somalia was forced to "bump" its G-2 in order to allow an Air Force COL to become the J-2. This and other disruptions to the staff were thought to have caused the intelligence section to spend 6-8 weeks absorbing and adapting to the changes. Finally, the life cycle of a JTF could be indefinite. For example, "sanctions" are very politically palatable for our leadership to advocate against another country, but the sanctions go on forever. Sanctions are still being enforced against Iraq, Libya, North Korea, the Balkan combatants, and operations like this sometimes involve JTF's.

SLIDE 4 (The JTF JIC Must)

The startup of a JTF JIC must be directed toward supporting the commander's objectives above all, but must also support the individual requirements of the component commanders. The JIC must establish and maintain the intelligence capabilities necessary to accomplish the mission. The JIC does this by drafting a document called a "CONOPS" or Concept of Operations, spelling out the plan for intelligence support and shared with higher, adjacent and component commands. This living document is intended to facilitate coordination between the JIC and all the entities which it supports and which support it. The CONOPs is one of the ways a JIC plans for and manages the fusion of national, theater, and tactical capabilities. The JIC must ensure it has enough personnel and resources to maintain 24 hour operations.

SLIDE 5 (J2 Staff Responsibilities)

The J-2 staff has a number of responsibilities from the moment it is chartered. All personnel assigned to the JIC must have a baseline of knowledge in order to accomplish the mission. There must be an initial orientation to the AO and the specific "problem" assigned. They must be thoroughly familiar with the commander's PIR's Personnel assigned to the JIC must understand and be familiar with the Operation plans and locations of friendly units. This may seem obvious, but one finds that personnel from the Navy and Air Force tend to be more specialized and less in tune with the ground and overall picture. The JIC staff must work to arrive at a common battlefield picture with the component intel staffs. The entire staff must be engaged in "nagging the system," both theater and national, to ensure promised support actually occurs. The military members of the staff need to attempt to "capture" the national and theater intelligence center representatives in order to shift their loyalty to the JTF. They will think of their parent organization as "we" and you as "they" until making a gradual conversion to your side. This is very important to sustaining their motivation to keep advocating higher quality support from their parent organization. You must plan on taking charge of intelligence liaison with allied and host nation forces. This is not to be confused with the components sharing tactical information with their allied counterparts, but the higher level exchange of detailed HUMINT or other types of non-tactically derived intel. The reason for this is that only the JIC is staffed and equipped to carry out the detailed process of sanitizing and tailoring intelligence for exchange with allies. The experts on foreign disclosure are usually from DIA.

SLIDE 6 (Joint Intel Growing Pains)

As the JIC grows into its role, there are certain growing pains associated with its startup. Most crisis JTF's are started from scratch on short notice. The drawdown of the military means that forces assigned to a JTF will probably be "global sourced," especially if there are additional crises already being dealt with. Despite the mandates of the 1947 National Security Act and Goldwater-Nichols, the services procurement arms have stubbornly fought jointness. The result is a wide array of systems compatibility problems... For example. in DESERT SHIELD/STORM, approximately 15 different and incompatible Secondary Imagery Dissemination Systems (SIDS) were employed by U.S. and allied forces. There is no standard architecture of intelligence connectivity, and there are a number of conflicting and unequal databases and assessments available to draw from when establishing baseline intelligence holdings. A crisis JTF will have continuing problems with manpower turnover--every single source of personnel will set its own rotation policy, so people will be assigned for anywhere from 179 days to an incredibly short 10-15 days. Although JCS Pub 02 establishes Joint doctrine, the nuts and bolts of procedures are still left in the hands of whoever dominates a particular "shop." Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) is procedurally different in each service, leading to plenty of room for conflict and difficulty. There are currently no joint training standards--even basic skills are different, i.e., Navy and Air Force personnel are unfamiliar with the military Grid Reference System, and are used to working in GEOLOCs. One other continuous problem that gets an early start is inter-service rivalry, which is euphemistically called "the roles and missions debate" by senior officers. It will often be alleged that individuals tend to look out for their branch of the service at the expense of the JTF itself.

You should be transferring a good part of your loyalty to the collective good of the JTF, and attempting to minimize the friction created by service differences.

SLIDE 7 (JTF Role Reversal Dilemma)

There is a role reversal dilemma that has been observed in many JTF life cycles. It is noted here so that you will be able to recognize and deal with its effects. Initial intelligence expertise resides in national agencies and theater JICs. They have elements (DIA's OICC) for instance, which are constantly involved in creating and updating intelligence packages for deployments to potential crisis areas. The JTF uses these products initially, as well as adapting "off-the-shelf" CONOPS contributed by representatives. The JTF then begins to put its own stamp on the CONOPS, which will be driven by the evolving mission and Commander's direction. The JTF components establish intelligence collection capabilities, and the JTF begins to benefit from being the fusion center for a flow of information down from national and theater and up from tactical collection efforts. At some point, the JIC becomes the Subject Matter Expert (SME) on the crisis. Support from outside begins to dwindle over time, and as other crises compete for attention and resources. Historically, accusations of non-support begin to emanate from both ends of the chain of command. Finally, it could be said that JTF's do not age well, in that the more rapid their life cycle, the less likely these negative effects will become a problem.

SLIDE 8 (What To Do First)

The experience of a Company Grade Action Officer meshes with the observations of senior Officers in picking out what JTF JIC should do first in order to get started. Selection of key players is not always possible, but a rough sketch of what kind of personnel you need is a good starting point. Initial staff planning should begin developing a blueprint for communication and dissemination architecture. This should start with a thorough assessment of component capabilities and existing paths. When a JTF starts, it is not in anybody's communications "yellow pages," nor is it automatically added to collective broadcast addresses. Develop a wish list for specific communications systems only after deciding what functions must be performed. The collection plan should be started early, with the understanding that it will be constantly revised over time. The priority should be to get standing requirements into the "system" as soon as possible in lieu of ad-hoc requirements that were initiated when the crisis first erupted. A key element of the draft CONOPS is how to handle requests for information (RFI/RII) from your own staff and particularly from present or prospective components. Usually, a theater JIC is chartered to be your initial RFI handler--they will be better equipped to task them out. The decisions for you are to decide if your components may bypass you, or if you plan to prioritize them and forward them from the JIC. You will do that eventually, but it may not be prudent until you are fully up to speed. Continuous changes and improvements are made to the CONOPS and it is circulated for review and comment. As the JIC begins to flesh out, it should exchange liaisons with the components and with allied forces.

SLIDE 9 (Survival Skills)

We have heard students say that they need only learn about things they will encounter in the next duty assignment--usually brigade and below tactical units. You will not have a full time educational assignment that is MOS-specific ever again, and we have to try to prepare you for the likelihood that within the next five years you will serve in a JTF JIC. One of our staff, who was pulled from a "non-deploying billet" to serve in Naples and in Former Yugoslavia, has contributed a few survival tips to keep in mind for the time when it is your turn to help provide the backbone of a JIC. First, don't watch the clock. Your time there is expected to be of a short duration, and JTF's never seem to deploy to any but the most god-forsaken places, so you might as well work. Senior staff will recognize who is pulling their weight. They will also recognize and lean on those who provide proactive problem solving and minimal complaints. MAKE IT HAPPEN. You should seize the opportunity to do and perform things far above your pay grade, and you will rapidly become entrusted with interesting projects if you study harder than others. Who would have expected the opportunity to Brief the Italian Joint Chiefs of Staff on a newly sanitized "Black" program, start and maintain an "airline" dedicated to imagery dissemination throughout the European theater, and write an UNPROFOR Sector Directive for Humanitarian Aid in Macedonia. Keep a journal of your activities. It will provide a priceless memento, and if you ever get around to writing a professional journal article or actually being a J-2 yourself someday, it will be an invaluable resource. You should correspond with your parent unit, but be aware that talking out of church is a dangerous practice. Your comments, taken out of context, could cause unnecessary and time consuming Political problems for the JTF and components. You should be writing to give your compadres a flavor of what to expect when they take their turn, but not to let the world know about the JIC's internal problems. You won't get a turnover file--but do the right thing and create one for the next guy. Encourage your peers to do the same. Far from home and parent unit, many people have taken advantage of what they see as an opportunity for unprofessional behavior--whether cheating on their spouse or letting their hair and uniforms descend to the lowest common denominator. This is a priceless opportunity for professional development, and you should use it to visit places and units that you would never otherwise encounter. Members of the JTF Provide Promise JIC passed up chances to board an aircraft carrier, visit the Sixth Fleet Flagship, view a Compass Call aircraft and other interesting "filed trips." Our final word is to Make sure you get your OER before departing. If it has an administrative or other error, it will take you years to track down an Air Force Rater and Navy Senior Rater. The J-1 cares about you toady, but will not remember you more than a week or two after you're gone. If they are giving medals out by the wheelbarrow, make sure you get yours. Suck it up and write your own "draft citation" in order to help the process along. You might as well, because you won't get much else in the way of thank you. We'll conclude with a great moment in JTF history, when the J-2 was told by a junior officer that she needed time off due to "stress." Any questions?

SLIDE 10 (Great Moments in JTF History)

III. Conclusion.

1. Today, we talked about the Joint Task Force Joint Intelligence Center and some lessons learned contributed by people who have "been there, done that."

2. We attempted to reinforce the concepts presented in two previous class, Joint Task Forces, and Intelligence Support to Joint Task Forces with an additional perspective on how to establish a JIC.

3. What are your questions?