Joint Interagency Task Forces

A Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) is an organization under military leadership that brings together representatives from various departments and agencies to work on a specific mission. Task force members usually report to and draw upon resources from their home agencies, but are collocated in a military command structure in the field. The JIATF works together to plan and execute operations. Often there is a heavily intelligence sharing component and tactical focus to a Joint Interagency Task Force. Co-locating agencies allows improved information exchange and typically produces more integrated and more effective plans. Two examples of a JIATF are the JIATF-South and JIATF-West. Both JIATFs counter illicit trafficking operations by coordinating intelligence collection and analysis with law enforcement; promoting security cooperation; and providing a forum for coordinating various country team and partner nation initiatives aimed at countering the flow of illicit traffic.

JIATF-West coordinates largest-ever maritime drug bust. Picture of crime scene. Sacks of seized cocaine.

JIATF South is responsible for counterdrug activity in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the eastern Pacific. JIATF South work is driven by contributions from across the federal government, including the State Department, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI, the U.S. Coast Guard, U. S. Customs and Border Protection), Defense Intelligence Agency, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the National Security Agency. Great Britain, France and the Netherlands provide ships, aircraft, and liaison officers to the task force. Many countries assign liaison officers to JIATF South. The result is a fully integrated, international task force organized to capitalize on the force multiplier effect of the various agencies and countries involved. According to command estimates, JIATF-S interdicted more than 200 metric tons of cocaine that was en route to the United States in 2007. (JIATF South’s website).

JIATF West counterdrug efforts are focused on Asia and the Pacific exclusively. JIATF West staff consists of approximately 82 uniformed and civilian members of all five military services as well as representatives from the national intelligence community and U.S. federal law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement representatives include the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). JIATF West closely aligns with US Pacific Command planning, developing and implementing counterdrug programs in Asia and the Pacific. (JIATF West's website).