Joint Task Force Civil Support (JTF-CS), headquartered at Fort Eustis, Va., began operations Oct. 1, 1999. Originally formed as a standing joint task force under U.S. Joint Forces Command, JTF-CS was transferred to U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) when USNORTHCOM was established Oct. 1, 2002. USNORTHCOM is the combatant command established to provide command and control of Department of Defense (DOD) homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support of civil authorities.
The task force consists of active, Guard and Reserve military members drawn from all service branches, as well as civilian personnel, who are commanded by a federalized (Title X) National Guard general officer.
JTF-CS plans and integrates DOD support to the designated Primary Agency for domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) consequence management operations. When approved by the secretary of defense and directed by the commander of USNORTHCOM, JTF-CS deploys to the incident site and executes timely and effective command and control of designated DOD forces, providing support to civil authorities to save lives, prevent injury and provide temporary critical life support.
JTF-CS focuses on responding to the effects of a CBRNE incident after civilian resources have been utilized first and fully. Some typical JTF-CS tasks include incident site support, casualty medical assistance and treatment, displaced populace support, mortuary affairs support, logistics support, and air operations.
The mission of supporting civil authorities is not a new one for DOD. The U.S. military has a long history of providing assistance to civil authorities during emergencies. U.S. military forces have assisted federal, state and local agencies during natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. The role of JTF-CS in providing assistance to the Primary Agency after a CBRNE incident is in keeping with this long and proud tradition.
JTF-CS accomplishes its consequence management mission in strict adherence to existing federal law, which carefully balances the support capabilities within the U.S. military with the needs of civil authorities during emergencies. In most instances, JTF-CS and its designated forces are deployed only after a state or territorial governor requests federal assistance from the president. In any domestic setting, JTF-CS remains in support of the Primary Agency throughout the CBRNE consequence management operation.