Accession Number:



Running the Joint: Air Force Efforts to Build a Joint Task Force Headquarters

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Research Report]

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In 2016, General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, called on 9th Air Force 9 AF at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to develop a Joint Task Force Headquarters JTF HQ capability, with the expectation that other numbered air forces would follow. After declaring initial operation capability in December 2018, 9 AF began to move toward full operating capacity. In the spring of 2020, 9 AF was called on to lead Task Force - Southeast, supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agencys response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. In August 2020, wings and direct reporting units from 9 AF and the 12th Air Force were integrated to form the 15th Air Force 15 AF, which continues the 9 AF mission to prepare to deploy as a service-retained JTF HQ or Air Expeditionary Task Force headquarters. Before 9 AF was integrated into 15 AF, 9 AF leadership and Headquarters Air Force HAF asked the RAND Corporation to examine how JTF HQs are formed and identify those factors that influence the selection of a unit to lead a Joint Task Force JTF. RAND was also asked to explore how the U.S. Air Force USAF can prepare for the unique requirements of leading joint operations. This report outlines those issues associated with getting ready how the USAF can prepare to lead joint operations and getting the call how the USAF can posture itself to increase and enhance its JTF leadership opportunities. RAND conducted this research through discussions with 9 AF staff, observation of ongoing unit training, engagement with individuals across the U.S. Department of Defense, quantitative analysis of trends in JTF formation from 1990 to 2017, and case studies of the recent joint operations Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, Joint Forces Command - United Assistance, and Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve.


Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Military Aircraft Operations

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]