Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan (SOJTF-A)
The Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan (SOJTF-A) conducts Special Operations activities within the Coalition Joint Operations Area - Afghanistan (CJOA-A), in order to enable the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF), and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) to provide the Afghan people a secure and stable environment and to prevent insurgent activities from threatening the authority and sovereignty of GIRoA. This includes Village Stability Operations (VSO), a bottom-up counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy that establishes expanding security and stability in rural villages, as well as training and partnering with ANSF military and police special operations forces elements. A In addition, SJOTF-A conducts Special Operations to deny terrorist sanctuaries in Afghanistan that threaten western interest.
SOJTF-A was formed in summer 2012 and the command was reportedly fully operational by July 2013. It appeared to have replaced the previous Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command - Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A). The objective of the new command was to bring all US special operations forces in Afghanistan under a more unified command structure. This included an unidentified "task force," assumed to be the task force attached to the Joint Special Operations Command operating in Afghanistan. The commander of SOJTF-A was also designated as the commander of the NATO Special Operations Component Command - Afghanistan (NSOCC-A), placing all US and ISAF special operations forces under the control of a single individual. This also placed a single individual at the top of the chain of command dealing when dealing with training and partnership between US and ISAF and ANSF special operations forces, adding a certain unity to the special operations community in Afghanistan in its entirety.
Work had already begun between 2011 and early 2012 to do more to synchronize Coalition and ANSF special operations efforts. According to the first SOJTF-A commander US Army Major General Tony Thomas, the decision to create the overarching command had been a unilateral US decision subseuqently presented to NATO for approval. The resulting command consisted of some 13,000 special operations forces (including the personnel of the NSOCC-A) and approximately 200 aircraft, including Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles. More than 25 nations provided forces to either SOJTF-A or NSOCC-A.
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