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9th AF members learn JTF functions firsthand during JC18

Juniper Cobra 18, JC18; United States; Israel

U.S. and Israeli color guard members present their national and service flags during a Juniper Cobra 18 (JC18) closing ceremony at Hatzor Air Force Base, Israel, Mar. 15, 2018. As part of JC18, Airmen with 9th Air Force from Shaw AFB, S.C., observed the joint task force (JTF) portion of the exercise to gain first-hand experience of standing up and maintaining a JTF. Observing a JTF is one of the many criteria 9th AF Airmen must complete to build toward becoming a JTF-capable headquarters for the Air Force. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Briauna Zeigler)

Juniper Cobra 18, JC18; United States; Israel

Joint U.S. and Israeli Defense Forces participate in a closing ceremony at an exercise site in Israel for Juniper Cobra at Hatzor Air Force Base, Israel, March 15, 2018. JC18 is a combined joint missile defense exercise that showcases the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Israel and improves interoperability between the two countries’ defense systems. JC18 is U.S. European Command’s top priority exercise for 2018 -- more than 2,500 U.S. and 2,000 Israeli members participated in JC18. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --

Airmen from 9th Air Force (9th AF) participated in exercise Juniper Cobra 18 (JC18), Mar. 4-15, in Israel to continue building toward certification as a Joint Task Force (JTF)-capable headquarters for the Air Force.

The exercise offered the 9th AF Airmen firsthand experience in how a JTF headquarters functions.

“Our desired objective was to leverage joint capabilities through seamless staff integration and interaction while executing deliberate planning, exercise processes and building a relationship with [U.S.] European Command Soldiers, Sailors and Marines and Coalition partners,” said Lt. Col. Taj Troy, 9th AF A7 Joint Exercise Training joint exercise scheduler. “The strategy is that our Airmen would bring back invaluable joint force relationships, processes and procedures, as well as an understanding of joint doctrine and functions related to the Joint Planning Process.”

JC18 is a combined joint missile defense exercise that showcases the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Israel and improves interoperability between the two countries’ defense systems. JC18 is U.S. European Command’s top priority exercise for 2018 -- more than 2,500 U.S. and 2,000 Israeli members participated in JC18. 

“We were happy to provide members of 9th Air Force the opportunity to observe and participate in standing up and operating a joint task force,” said Col. Justin Hickman, JC18 Joint Task Force-Israel chief of staff.

Hickman, who is assigned to U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa, said the 9th AF Airmen were seamlessly integrated into the joint team and became vital to the team’s ultimate success.

“We hope they will be able to take back the knowledge learned from this exercise and execute the Air Force Chief of Staff’s direction to become a JTF-capable headquarters,” Hickman said.

While a close observation of the organizational structure and dynamics was a key take away for the 9th AF Airmen attending the exercise, JC18 also provided them an avenue to operationally apply skills they learned during internal staff exercises.

“Attendance at JC18 presented an opportunity to work jointly in a task force, exercising skills and accomplishing outlined training objectives,” Troy said. “This directly aids in our goal of establishing an operational level JTF headquarters capable of trans-regional, multi-domain, multi-functional operations globally across the full range of military operations.”

For Master Sgt. Reneekqua Grays, 9th AF A1 Manpower and Personnel superintendent, JC18 helped her better understand the importance of the U.S. role in defending partner nations, and what J1 -- the joint manpower and personnel section -- accomplishes for the nation, the mission and service members. Knowledge she plans to convey to her team at 9th AF.

"The J1 role in any joint environment is super important,” Grays explained. “Human capital is the No. 1 priority of any organization. ... Making sure all personnel are accounted for and ready to perform any mission is vital to the defense and protection of a country and to air, space and cyber space domains.”

“Participating in JC18 helped me to bridge the gap on all the things I have learned in 9th AF,” Grays continued. “Just like any other training you receive, hands-on knowledge makes things a lot simpler and easier to accomplish.”

As the 9th AF pursues certification, Troy said the organization will continue sending Airmen to future joint exercises, as well as other Tier 1 National Level and Combatant Command Training and Tier 2 Joint Task Force Training exercises, to gain further experience.

For more information on JC18, visit https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/JuniperCobra