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Joint force capabilities, why they're important

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Why the need for a joint force? 

According to our National Security Strategy, the United States requires forces of sufficient size, depth and combat power to defend the homeland; maintain effective overseas presence; conduct a wide range of concurrent engagement activities and smaller-scale contingencies, including peace operations; and conduct decisive campaigns against adversaries in two distant, overlapping major theater wars, all in the face of weapons of mass destruction and other asymmetric threats. 

The task sounds daunting, doesn't it? For the most part it's nearly impossible, at least for a single service. 

A joint force strategy provides the U.S. the means to achieve this task. Joint operations enable all services to come together, combine resources and reach a common goal of preserving the world's premier democracy and protecting our forefathers' vision of freedom and liberty for all. 

We've clearly demonstrated joint effectiveness during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and continue to do so in our Global War on Terror, but a true joint mindset is still in its infancy. 

It's easy for the services to effectively work toward a common objective or goal, and we do this daily. But challenges arise once we enter the realm of who will exercise command authority over joint forces. 

The Joint Task Force is one method Department of Defense leaders have chosen to tackle this issue. This puts smaller forces with a single, focused mission or objective under a single Joint Force Commander. We have yet to employ this on a broader scale encompassing total force management. The Joint Chiefs state this is the way ahead, but have long said, "We are not there yet." 

With DOD initiatives to draw down total military end strengths, we must continue to exploit ways to become a more efficient and effective total force. A joint force is able to draw on the strengths of all services, while compensating for, if not eliminating, potential weaknesses and avoiding duplicate efforts. 

There's increasing recognition that our services don't need to have separate and self-contained combat capability that cannot and will not take advantage of the combat capability of another service. For example, the Air Force can provide the Army more air defense than ground forces can provide for themselves. On the other hand, picture the Air Force trying its hand at a ground war, going it alone defending a deployed air base, securing the seas or a beachhead. I believe it is not in our best interests to have a cookie-cutter military force. We should seamlessly integrate and maintain our service-specific specialties. 

The bottom line is, every service component brings to bear its specific core and war-fighting competencies when called upon to defend this great nation, but in a joint capacity we can better present an overwhelming array of capabilities against our enemies defend.