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Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia

Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia [JTF-SWA] was composed of units from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia [France withdrew in the late 1990s]. In addition to flying operations, the task force provided maritime interdiction in the northern Red Sea and Persian Gulf regions. The JTF-SWA headquarters consists of a command section and five directorates: J1, Personnel; J2, Intelligence; J3, Operations; J4, Logistics; and J6, Communications, as well as public affairs and legal staffs.

The commander, Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia, was also commander, 9th Aerospace Expeditionary Task Force-Southwest Asia, US Central Command, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The JTF-SWA was a multiservice, multinational coalition. It conducted Operation Southern Watch to ensure Iraqi compliance with United Nations resolutions. The 9AETF-SWA was the forward-deployed air expeditionary arm of the United States' 9th Air Force.

Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia was established on August 26, 1992. The first 90-day rotation of Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia commanders began on November 17, 1992. Its duties included the enforcement of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions in the Gulf region. JTF-SWA performs the Operation Southern Watch mission of monitoring and controlling airspace south of the 33rd parallel in Iraq. The role of the coalition forces is to monitor compliance with UN Security Council resolutions. JTFSWA includes Americans, British, French and Saudi Arabian forces.

In April, 1991, the UN Security Council approved UNSCR 688, which demanded that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein end the repression of the Iraqi civilian population. Iraq's bombing and strafing attacks against the Shi'a Muslims throughout the remainder of 1991, and well into 1992, clearly indicated that Saddam had no intention of complying with the resolution.

Joint Task Force - Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA) was activated on August 26, 1992, as the command and control unit for United Nations coalition forces deployed in the Persian Gulf region. Its mission is to monitor and control airspace south of the 33rd parallel in Iraq, in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH (known as Operation JURAL in the United Kingdom, and Operation ALYSSE in France). Coalition forces in the region monitor Iraq's compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR).

Coalition forces flew the first SOUTHERN WATCH sortie within 24 hours of JTF-SWA's activation, ensuring the skies over southern Iraq were free of any fixed- or rotary-wing aircraft (as first drafted, the "no fly zone" included all airspace in Iraq south of the 32nd parallel). At first, Iraq did comply with the "no fly" restrictions. However, with the UN's November 24, 1992, decision to retain sanctions against Iraq, Saddam challenged the coalition force. On December 27, 1992, while flying a routine mission in the "no fly zone," a US Air Force F-16 encountered an Iraqi MiG-25. The MiG pilot locked his air-to-air radar on the F-16, and was quickly shot down by the F-16 pilot.

Shortly after this incident, Saddam ordered that surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) be deployed south of the 32nd parallel. Since those missiles threatened pilots flying SOUTHERN WATCH missions, the coalition ordered Saddam to move his missile batteries north of the 32nd parallel, an order Saddam ignored, despite strong warnings from the UN. On January 6, 1993, four UN allies (the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Russia) reached agreement on methods of enforcing UNSCR 688. One week later, coalition aircraft destroyed SAM sites, and their command and control units, in southern Iraq. In addition, on January 17, coalition naval forces disabled an Iraqi nuclear facility with Tomahawk cruise missiles, to ensure Iraq had no means of producing nuclear weapons, a requirement of UNSCR 687. The following day, the allies carried out a successful air raid against Iraqi SAM sites below the 32nd parallel. On April 18, 1993, a coalition F-4G destroyed an Iraqi anti-aircraft position, after being illuminated by the site's radar. On June 26, 1993, the United States initiated a Tomahawk missile strike in response to intelligence which concluded that the Iraqi government sponsored an assassination attempt on President George Bush during his visit to Kuwait in 1992.

In October, 1994, Saddam, upset over the continued sanctions against Iraq, insisted on a date by which the sanctions would be repealed. As part of his posturing, he ordered the deployment of a large number of armored vehicles and mechanized infantry to southern Iraq, including its border with Kuwait. Coalition forces responded by increasing surveillance operations and deploying additional aircraft and personnel to the region. At the same time, the coalition governments stated unequivocally that they would not be intimidated into ending the sanctions. While Saddam insisted that he had the right, as his nation's president, to move his troops anywhere within his borders, appeals from friendly nations in the gulf region convinced him to withdraw.

In October 1994, USCENTCOM responded to Iraqi massed armor units at the Kuwaiti border by sending air and ground forces to the region (Operation VIGILANT WARRIOR). This action was in support of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949 which prohibited Iraqi force enhancements south of 32 degrees North latitude. Operation SOUTHERN WATCH remains a long-term U.S. Central Command operational commitment and the primary mission for the standing Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia. Joint Task Force operations continue to support United Nations missions, maintain forces fully prepared for contingency operations and transition to war, and support working relationships with allied partners, the British, French, and Saudis.

The presence of the 4404th Wing (Provisional) in Saudi Arabia predated Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia. Activated on March 13, 1991 at Al Kharj Air Base, it primarily comprised the assets of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional) which had operated in the theater during the Gulf War. On June 23, 1992, the Wing moved to Dhahran. It was the only U.S. Air Force combatant unit in the southwest Asia Area of Responsibility.

The Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia staff includes service members from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. As stated, the Joint Task Force commander is an Air Force major general. The Deputy Commander is either a Navy rear admiral or Marine Corps brigadier or major general. As of 1996 the staff included 185 personnel, of which 183 were on a temporary 90-day assignment to the Headquarters. Of the 185 persons assigned to the Joint Task Force, 14 were Army, 28 were Navy, and 129 were Air Force. Additionally, there were 14 other billets that included DoD contractors and a National Intelligence Support Team.

Effective 01 December 1998, the 4404th Wing (Provisional) at Prince Sultan Air Base inactivated and the Air Force activated the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing. The 4406th Operations Group (Provisional) at Al Jaber Air Base inactivated and the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group activated. The 4409th Air Base Group (Provisional) inactivated and the 320th Air Expeditionary Group activated at Eskan Village. The 9th Air Expeditionary Group at Ali Al Salem in Kuwait and the parent organization, the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Southwest Asia [also known as Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia] did not change.

Under Operation Desert Shift, the 320th Air Expeditionary Group (AEG) transitioned JTF-SWA to Prince Sultan Air Base, effective 01 April 2001.

While Operation SOUTHERN WATCH remains a long-term U.S. Central Command operational commitment under the standing Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia, the Joint Task Force staff is manned and supported with temporary duty people as a short term contingency operation. As the Joint Task Force mission continued into 1995, the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command decided to extend the tour length of the commander of the Joint Task Force to a one year assignment.

To carry out his mission, the Commander, Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia served primarily as the Joint Force Air Component Commander (Forward) for the Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command. During the transition from peacetime to wartime operations, Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia and its Air Operations Center became the nucleus of the Joint Force Air Component Command staff and was absorbed by the Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, the JFACC in war.

JTFs are designed to be of limited duration, but several of the JTFs have been in operation for several years, and in many cases they are staffed by personnel on temporary assignment from their regular station and duties. Each Theater Commander-in-Chief was directed by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff to review Joint Task Force operations to ensure that each is conducted in accordance with published joint doctrine and to establish programs of regular oversight of all Joint Task Forces. The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command determined that the program to require "seamless" transitions of individuals at Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia and the 4404th Wing (Provisional) ensured continuity for commanders, staff personnel, and operating forces.



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