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In a perfect world, every joint leader has sufficient resources to contend with every problem or crisis outside the bounds of normal operations.  Despite the best-laid campaign plans, challenges may arise that outstrip their ability to manage them.  For these situations, they typically form temporary command structures adaptable enough to contend with anything from natural disasters to attacks against U.S. and allied interests.  These organizations, known as Joint Task Forces, require a rapid infusion of skilled experts with specialized command-and-control capability.   

Before 2008, each geographic combatant commander maintained a cadre of personnel, called a Standing Joint Force Headquarters (SJFHQ), dedicated to this purpose.  The idea of SJFHQ arose as a result of the need to improve the response capabilities for operational level headquarters. The problem was the lack of command and control from the beginning of a crisis until a capable joint task force headquarters could form. In addition, members of the new headquarters did not always understand the nuances of joint operations or details of a regional crisis.

In 2008, the mission of standing up joint task force command and control functions was assumed by a single entity, the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC), consisting of a headquarters organization and two subordinate commands – the Joint Planning Support Element, collocated in Norfolk with a detachment of public affairs experts, and the Joint Communications Support Element, which operates out of MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

From its origins as a directorate of Joint Forces Command in 2008 to its reassignment as a subordinate joint command of U.S. Transportation Command in 2011, JECC’s nearly 1500 Active, Reserve, Guard, and Civilian component planners, public affairs professionals, communicators, and staff members provide decisive planning, public affairs and communications support to all geographic and functional combatant commands, defense agencies, US government agencies, allies, and the Joint Staff. 

During the past two years, JECC members conducted more than 95 JECC Alert Force (JAF) missions and mission tailored packages (MTPs) in support of all combatant commands and the Joint Staff, including: hurricane relief operations and Defense Support to Civil Authorities across the United States, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean, support to Operations INHERENT RESOLVE, RESOLUTE SUPPORT, and SPARTAN SHIELD.  They were also involved in more than 54 globally integrated exercises and operations (GIE/GIO), and internal Joint Readiness Exercises (JRX), revising major contingency plans for strategic competition in support of the National Military Strategy and National Defense Strategy, and leading global planning efforts to develop the first-ever series of strategic readiness reviews and global campaign frameworks.  JECC’s planners and public affairs specialists also helped establish the United States Cyber and Space Commands and planned for the relocation of the USAFRICOM Headquarters, support to the United States Customs and Border Patrol for undocumented and unaccompanied children migrating to the southern border.

Over the last year, JECC played a crucial role in keeping all Americans safe during the global COVID-19 pandemic by contributing planning and public affairs support to the Defense Health Agency in the development of graduated response plans as well as support to the Department of Health and Human Services.