Joint Force Quarterly 3rd Quarter 2006 - JIATF - South: Blueprint for Success by Richard M. Yeatman.

Over the last 17 years, the Joint Interagency Task Force–South (JIATF–S) has built an unparalleled network of law enforcement, intelligence, and military assets to focus on detecting the movements and shipments of narcoterrorist organizations.

With this evolving structure, JIATF–S serves as a model for bringing the most effective assets to bear on complex national policy issues, whether it be illegal drugs, weapons proliferation, or international terrorism. Fundamental to any task force is a clear mission statement. If the statement, and thus the mission itself, lacks specific goals, agencies may be reluctant to participate for fear they have little to gain. Therefore, JIATF–S must target specific missions and clearly define their objectives, to include detecting, monitoring, and targeting narcoterrorists and the drugs they profit from. Since law enforcement agencies have a vested interest in achieving these objectives, the application of an interagency partnership has been successful.

JIATF–S serves as a model that other interagency organizations can tailor to their specific goals. For example, an interagency effort to track military equipment destined for terrorist organizations could include individuals from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). For task force participants to feel connected to results, they must be part of the command. Within the JIATF–S organizational structure, representatives from DOD, Homeland Security, and the Justice Department, along with U.S. Intelligence Community liaisons and international partners, work as one team. Interagency personnel are fully integrated within the command structure and serve in key leadership positions. This integration promotes trust and facilitates the sharing of law enforcement investigative information, which is critical for any intelligence-driven organization.

While traditional joint operations focus on efforts among the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, JIATF–S has gone past these traditional boundaries, becoming a fully integrated interagency command. Whereas most organizations count on liaison officers to represent them, JIATF–S takes this concept much further. The top command structure demonstrates total integration, with the Director being a Coast Guard rear admiral and the Vice Director coming from Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Integration also exists through the lower levels of the command: both the Directors for Intelligence and Operations are military officers, but their Deputies are from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Customs and Border Protection. Intelligence analysts from the DEA, CBP, and FBI are located in the Joint Intelligence Operations Center to ensure that law enforcement agencies are involved in daily operations and that information is not stovepiped…