Joint Task Force North
Joint Task Force North (JTF North), formerly Joint Task Force Six (JTF-6), is a multi-service operation by the United States Department of Defense for counterdrug and anti-terrorist operations. JTF-North is headquartered at Biggs Army Airfield, Fort Bliss, Texas. United States Northern Command is the controlling Unified Combatant Command.
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The JTF was originally activated as Joint Task Force Six (JTF-6) in November 1989 with a purely counter-drug mission. In 2004 it was renamed JTF North and added counter-terrorism to its mission, due in part to the efforts of Major M. W. Robinson, who, in his spare time, wrote the threat assessments for the Gulf Coast ports and access points available to terror elements worldwide. However, he was unable to get senior military officials to adopt changes to the JTF-6 mission. He reasoned the prime threat to port security is the continued storage of foreign containers at port facilities that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is unable to search and clear for numerous reasons, including manpower and Free Trade Zone restrictions.
He reported to the U.S. Department of Defense that containers stored without controls were a continual threat from terrorist organizations who could store weapons of mass destruction for future use. His efforts sparked congressional debate over what the true mission of JTF-6 should be, and if that mission should be border security from foreign terror organizations. In the aftermath of 9/11, the government scrambled to get copies of Robinson's original manuscripts from his prior duty station as the JTF-6 Southwest Area Intelligence Chief in Houston, Texas.
Well-known former members of Joint Task Force 6 include: General Kevin P. Byrnes, U.S. Army, Ret., JTF-6 Commanding General; Colonel Robert Love, USMC, Ret., and current Senior Executive Service (SES) member to the DoD's Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO); Special Forces LTC Eric Buckland, U.S. Army, Ret., and Captain Kirk Harrington, owner of EFMC, LLC.
Detect, monitor, and support the interdiction of suspected transnational threats within and along the approaches to the continental United States (CONUS); fuse and disseminate intelligence, contribute to the common operating picture; coordinate support to primary federal agencies; and support security cooperation initiatives in order to secure the homeland and enhance regional security.
On June 2, 1996, during JTF-6 Mission JT177-96, (a ground reconnaissance mission conducted in the Angeles National Forest, California) Lance Corporal Eric D. Davis of Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment (1/5) died as the result of a fall.
On May 20, 1997, during an operation in Redford, Texas, near the United States–Mexico border, Corporal Clemente M. Banuelos, the leader of his squad, fatally shot 18-year-old American citizen Esequiel Hernández, Jr., in the back on the American side of the border, as he was herding goats adjacent to his home. No charges were brought at the time or subsequently.
The shooting inspired the 2005 movie The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada by Tommy Lee Jones. The 2007 documentary The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez explores the killing, analyzing both sides of the issue by interviewing the Hernandez family and friends, the Marines, and local officials.
- Official website
- Official factsheet
- Global Security: Joint Task Force Six
- Congressman Reyes: "JTF-6 Adds Their Expertise to War on Terror"
- / Coyne Report
- Dargis, Manohla (2005-12-14). "Dead Man Rising: An Odyssey in Texas". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-11.
- "About the Film The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández". PBS. 2008-07-07. Retrieved 2008-07-11.
- Casady, Michelle (2008-07-08). "Documentary explores Texas teen's killing by Marines". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-07-11.