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Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist, right, Ninth Air Force commander, certifies Ninth AF in achieving initial operating capability as a Joint Task Force (JTF)-capable headquarters as Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, looks on, Dec. 14, 2018. Ninth AF demonstrated its ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined JTF operations at the operational level of war during Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2 Dec. 10-14, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Angela Webb)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners

(Left to right) Royal Air Force (RAF) Wing Cdr. Karen Moran, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brian Yorke, and RAF Wing Cmdr. Philip Holdcroft, exercise J3 Operations Directorate planners, discuss exercise scenario operational concerns at the forward headquarters during Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 12, 2018. December marked the first time international partners participated in a Ninth Air Force exercise with more than 10 United Kingdom participants from the RAF and Standing Joint Force Headquarters. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick) The box blur tool was used for operational security reasons.

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Austin Mayo, 51st Combat Communications Squadron electrical power production technician, installs grounding wire while helping build the forward headquarters, or “tent city,” in preparation for Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw AFB, S.C., Nov. 26, 2018. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners

Ninth Air Force members and augmentees register Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2 participants during the Joint Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration (JROSI), Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 9, 2018. The JRSOI transitions members, equipment and materials into forces capable of meeting the commander’s operational requirements. This was the first time Ninth AF implemented a full JRSOI with three iterations to inprocess Ninth AF headquarters members, U.S. Transportation Command’s Joint Enabling Capabilities Command members and other joint and coalition partners. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners

U.S. Air Force Capt. Lindsey Hatcher, Ninth Air Force Surgeon General medic, checks the vitals of 2nd Lt. Michael Hollis, 51st Combat Communications Squadron officer in charge, during Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 12, 2018. The 20th Medical Group at Shaw provided Hatcher as an exercise participant to provide real-world medial for other exercise participants at the forward headquarters. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners

Royal Air Force Wing Cmdr. Philip Holdcroft, standing, Ninth Air Force J3 Operations Directorate exchange officer, briefs U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist, Ninth AF commander, and staff during Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 13, 2018. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners

A directional sign post represents a marker for the exercise location of the forward headquarters, or “tent city,” during Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 13, 2018. MRX 19-2 participants simulated working from two geographical locations: participants at the forward headquarters at exercise “Bagram” focused on forming a Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF), while participants at the main headquarters and operational planning teams at Shaw AFB focused on the planning efforts of the CJTF. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess CJTF operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Sweeney)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners

U.S. Airmen with the 5th Combat Communication Group (CCG) from Robins Air Force Base, Ga., unloads supplies used to build the forward headquarters, or “tent city,” for Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw AFB, S.C., Nov. 26, 2018. The 5th CCG delivered four truckloads including 16 pallets of equipment from Robins to support the exercise. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathan Reynolds and Senior Airman Michael Vazquez, left to right behind the counter, Ninth AF executive communication technicians, inprocess joint partners with U.S. Transportation Command’s Joint Enabling Capabilities Command during the Joint Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration (JRSOI), Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 9, 2018. During JRSOI, Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2 participants registered for the MRX and attended briefings on topics ranging from communications to finance in a deployed environment. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners
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U.S. military and civilian members participate in one of the four operational planning teams (OPT) during Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 11, 2018. The role of the OPT is to direct planning efforts, including implementation of plans and orders, as part of the Joint Planning Process during the exercise. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick) The box blur tool was used for operational security reasons.

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners
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Jon Couch, front, exercise J3 Operations Directorate planner with the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency from Fort Belvoir, Va., and Lt. Col. Claudio Covacci, exercise J3 planner with the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command from Naval Station Norfolk, Va., update the daily battle rhythm schedule for the forward headquarters during Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 12, 2018. The battle rhythm provides structure and a sequencing of actions and events within a headquarters to support the commander’s decision cycle. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners
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Royal Air Force Wing Cmdr. Philip Holdcroft, Ninth Air Force J3 Operations Directorate exchange officer, talks with other exercise participants from the United Kingdom during Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 13, 2018. December marked the first time international partners participated in a Ninth AF exercise with more than 10 United Kingdom participants from the RAF and Standing Joint Force Headquarters. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Sweeney)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners
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U.S. Airmen with the 5th Combat Communications Group (CCG) from Robins Air Force Base, Ga., set up the forward headquarters, or “tent city,” in preparation for Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw AFB, S.C., Nov. 26, 2018. Tent city included eight tents for the forward combined joint task force headquarters, a communications tent, cyber café and supporting equipment. In total, the 5th CCG delivered 16 pallets of equipment from Robins AFB to support MRX 19-2. The exercise was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners
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U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Uvade Mendez, right, exercise Joint Planning Group cyber subject matter expert with the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command from Naval Station Norfolk, Va., and Royal Air Force Wing Cmdr. Andrew Bird, exercise J5 Foreign Agreements planner, develop the joint planning course of action, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 12, 2018. Mendez and Bird worked at the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) main headquarters which conducted a majority of the planning functions during the exercise. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess CJTF operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners
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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Martin Mazick, 55th Combat Communications Squadron client systems technician, hammers a stake into the ground to secure a tent’s rain flap in preparation for Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw AFB, S.C., Nov. 26, 2018. The forward headquarters, or “tent city,” included eight tents, a communications tent, cyber café and supporting equipment. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners
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U.S. Navy Capt. Kenneth Worthy, exercise J3 Operations Directorate deputy director with the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command from Naval Station Norfolk, Va., reviews planning considerations at the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) main headquarters during Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 12, 2018. As the deputy J3 at main, Worthy was in charge of planning, coordinating and integrating operations for the CJTF. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess CJTF operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick) The box blur tool was used for operational security reasons.

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners
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U.S. military, civilians and coalition partners conduct planning operations at the main headquarters as part of Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 12, 2018. While the forward headquarters focused on the forming efforts of a Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF), the main headquarters focused on planning efforts of standing up a CJTF and the exercise scenario at large. Participants included Total Force members from the U.S. Transportation Command’s Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, Joint Staff, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and Standing Joint Force Headquarters. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess CJTF operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners
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U.S. Navy Cmdr. James Brunson, left, exercise J3 Operations Directorate planner with the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command from Naval Station Norfolk, Va., discusses the Joint Mission Essential Equipment List (JMEEL) with U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Lori Padgett, Ninth AF exercise J4 Logistics Directorate planner, at the forward headquarters during Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 12, 2018. During the forming of a Joint Task Force (JTF) headquarters, representatives from each directorate and special staff help build the JMEEL to identify the equipment needed to ensure mission success. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth AF’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined JTF operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick) The box blur tool was used for operational security reasons.

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners
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Members of the exercise forward headquarters discuss forming operations during Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Dec. 12, 2018. Exercise participants accomplished key operational forming functions including creating the Joint Manning Document, Joint Mission Essential Task List and Joint Mission Essential Equipment List. MRX 19-2 was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth AF’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Ninth AF certifies as JTF-capable HQ with joint, coalition partners
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U.S. Airmen with the 5th Combat Communications Group (CCG) from Robins Air Force Base, Ga., set up the forward headquarters, or “tent city,” in preparation for Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2, Shaw AFB, S.C., Nov. 26, 2018. Tent city included eight tents for the forward combined joint task force headquarters, a communications tent, cyber café and supporting equipment. In total, the 5th CCG delivered 16 pallets of equipment from Robins AFB to support MRX 19-2. The exercise was an initial operational capability certification event designed to demonstrate Ninth Air Force’s ability to effectively plan, prepare, execute and assess Combined Joint Task Force operations at the operational level of war as tasked by the Air Force Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --

Ninth Air Force achieved certification as a U.S. Air Force Joint Task Force (JTF)-capable headquarters Dec. 14 following the conclusion of Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX) 19-2.

The exercise took place Dec. 10 through 14 and demonstrated Ninth AF has the initial operating capability (IOC) to stand up as a JTF-capable HQ.

As part of the Air Force's strategic initiative to strengthen joint leaders and teams, Ninth AF will now provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with an air-centric capability to task during crisis operations and be offered as part of the dynamic force employment model to meet the DoD’s new National Defense Strategy for more integrated and multi-domain operations.

“The DoD added one more arrow to its joint quiver with Ninth AF’s IOC certification as a JTF-capable headquarters” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist, Ninth AF commander. “Ninth AF will be a complementary asset to our joint partners whether in a supported or supporting role.”

MRX 19-2 was a culmination of a year’s worth of exercises that started in November 2017. Ninth AF now aligns with the Air Force Chief of Staff’s objective stated at the Air Force Association Air, Space & Cyber Symposium in September 2017 -- to be that viable Air Force option for the DoD.

Each staff exercise (STAFFEX) gave Ninth AF leaders a platform to enable Airmen assigned to the organization to become proficient in tasks required of a JTF headquarters staff.

“The STAFFEXs allowed us to build our processes and improve them from exercise to exercise; whereas, the MRX really allowed us to put them into practice and validate them,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Sean Cosden, J3 Operations Directorate director. “The MRX provided an opportunity with a large number of partners across the joint world, including our Air Reserve Component [ARC] partners and coalition partners, to integrate and validate.

“The processes we were practicing were the same, and the STAFFEXs allowed us to look at different combatant commands and mission sets to build a broad set of capabilities as opposed to being narrowly focused. It’s that broad focus that enabled us to achieve IOC and paves the way to FOC [full operational capability],” Cosden continued.

Throughout it all, Ninth AF leveraged the collective experience of U.S. Air Force ARC members and joint partners both from Guard and Reserve units, as well as those assigned to the U.S. Transportation Command’s Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC).

“As part of our core competencies as an enabling capability, we have a ready force of planners and communicators who can deploy to help form a JTF with unique communication capabilities and joint planning experience,” said U.S. Army Col. Dana Stowell, JECC mission tailored package lead. “… Our team members were able to gain valuable joint planning and JTF forming experience that enhances our capabilities to support the joint force.  Every time we get to work with joint partners, we’re establishing important relationships and connections as those organizations move forward and continue to operate.”

MRX 19-2 expanded the role of Ninth AF’s partners with the addition of more than 10 United Kingdom participants for international collaboration.

“The Royal Air Force’s role was absolutely about cooperation and interoperability,” said RAF Wing Cmdr. Philip Holdcroft, Ninth AF J3 exchange officer. “It was also a forcing function for Ninth AF to incorporate coalition members into the JTF and hopefully providing greater diversity of thought in planning. Also, the RAF participation is aligned with the standup of 11 Group, a multi-domain operations group. The RAF gained a shared understanding of how a U.S. Air Force JTF would operate and how the United Kingdom would integrate, complement and successfully reinforce the JTF.”

In addition, more than 30 Airmen with the 5th Combat Communications Group provided the integral communication piece of the JTF with an expanded Flexible Communication Package. The 93rd Air Ground Operation Wing’s 820th Base Defense Group from Moody AFB, Georgia, and 20th Wing at Shaw also provided Airmen dedicated to security and a Camp Commandant to facilitate different issues that arose at the forward headquarters, respectively. 

In total, there were more than 250 participants at four locations across Shaw AFB. Ninth AF now turns its focus toward achieving FOC as a JTF-capable headquarters.