Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region

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Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region
Official seal of Joint Force Headquarters
National Capital Region
ActiveSeptember 22, 2004 – Present
Country United States
BranchUnited States Armed Forces
RoleHomeland defense
Part ofUnited States Northern Command
Garrison/HQFort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
MG Omar J. Jones IV
  • MG Galen B. Jackman, USA
  • MG Guy C. Swan III, USA

Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region (JFHQ-NCR) is directly responsible for the homeland security and defense of the Washington D.C. area as well as surrounding counties in Virginia and Maryland. Primarily made up of joint military units within the National Capital Region, the JFHQ-NCR assists federal and local civilian agencies and disaster response teams in the event that the capital area's security is or possibly could be breached by acts of terrorism. Officially activated on September 22, 2004, JFHQ-NCR is part of United States Northern Command.


U.S. Army Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Infantry Regiment,"The Old Guard," present the Military District of Washington Commander Major General Jim Jackson with the American flag that draped next to the Pentagon's impact site on October 11, 2001.

After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon on September 11, 2001, military and civilian leaders recognized a need for strong cooperation and communication between agencies and national and local units in times of emergency or to prevent such attacks in the first place, something that had been severely lacking prior to that time. USNORTHCOM was subsequently established, taking the lead of several JTFs throughout the U.S. that are subordinate to the Command and charged with homeland security. The Joint Force Headquarters for the National Capital Region was created for the sole purpose of preventing and responding to future terrorist attacks within the Washington, D.C. area and its surrounding cities and counties.

JFHQ-NCR officially came into being in September 2004. However, the unit had been operating in part for at least a year prior to its official creation. Major General James T. Jackson, the Military District of Washington (MDW) Commander at the time of the September 11th attacks, was the first to take hold of the concept of the new Headquarters and began to piece various aspects of it together, particularly seeing and responding to the need for a mobile command center and a more effective central command and control headquarters. When MG Galen B. Jackman replaced Jackson in 2003, Jackman solidified the role of JFHQ, commanding the response to various regional emergencies and National Special Security Events (NSSE), proving the potential of JFHQ-NCR. When the organization finally stood up in the fall of 2004—after having had a year of practice—it was fully operational and able to provide an effective answer to the NCR's growing security concerns.[1]

JFHQ-NCR in action

Personnel in the Joint Task Force National Capital Region's Joint Operations Center maintain security vigilance during George W. Bush's State of the Union Address, January 31, 2006.

When called upon to assist in a regional crisis or an NSSE (national events requiring security measures outlined and directed by the U.S. Secret Service), the JFHQ mobilizes and becomes Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR). The JTF-NCR is then directed to respond as quickly as possible and with as many component partners as applicable to address the issue at hand. Although the JFHQ is the single point of contact for entities within the JTF-NCR, the JTF is ultimately guided by the lead agency (the agency that asked JFHQ for assistance to begin with) and the directives of USNORTHCOM.

The JFHQ-NCR has had several claims of success in the few years it has been operating. The first crisis that required the help of the JFHQ's JTF occurred on February 2, 2004 when ricin was discovered in the Capitol Hill office mail room of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Marine Corps' Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) assisted in the situation and helped officials safely decontaminate the area.[2]

Other JTFs have been activated in the NCR for the dedication of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall and its accompanying World War II reunion, former president Ronald Reagan's state funeral, President George W. Bush's 2005 Presidential Inauguration, President Bush's State of the Union Addresses, and most recently the state funeral of former president Gerald Ford.[3][4][5]

Joint Operations Center

JFHQ-NCR's Joint Operations Center at its dedication at Ft. McNair, Washington, D.C., August 2, 2004.

The Joint Operations Center (JOC), dedicated a month and a half prior to the official activation of the JFHQ, is the command and control center at the heart of the JFHQ. The JOC is housed in a newly renovated building at Ft. McNair, designed with the latest in technological advances for its time. The JOC boasts 50+ work stations, complete with secure and non-secure capability by way of phones, computer network access, and video teleconferencing for the entire center. The JOC is also "red phone" capable, Geospatial Information System ready, and fully integrated into the secure NORTHCOM communications system. In addition to the ability to communicate with various civilian and military units within the NCR, satellites provide the JOC with secure communication links to the Mobile Command Center and its smaller mobile cousin, "Dagger." [6]

Mobile Command Post

The Mobile Command Post of the JFHQ, parked inside Ft. McNair, August 2, 2004. The MCP allows the JFHQ commander to communicate with all necessary components within the National Capital Region.

The Mobile Command Post (MCP), like the JOC, was instituted as a direct result of failures in communication capabilities at the time of the September 11th attacks. MG James Jackson needed to be in two places at once much of the time to coordinate recovery efforts at the Pentagon; however, "We had no vehicle then that was capable of anything more than a non-secure telephone connection. The EOC was basically an unclassified environment. (Jackson) made the commitment to secure a modern mobile command center and to fund it from the MDW budget," said Col. Egon Hawrylak (USA-Ret.), a civilian deputy operations officer who previously worked in the MDW operations center.[6]

The MCP, the mobile, smaller version the JOC, is situated on a 41-foot, 10-wheeled, truck chassis. The MCP was custom built for its mission of providing mobile support to the JFHQ commander and the JOC and, like the JOC, is complete with the latest in computer, technological, and communication advances.

Joint Service Honor Guard

The Joint Service Honor Guard is composed of personnel from the official honour guard units of each uniformed branch in the United States Armed Forces. The honour guard units of each of the services is located in or near Washington D. C., and form the ad-hoc battalion sized unit to represent the entire armed forces at numerous ceremonies of state, mostly State visits to the United States and the Armed Forces Farewell ceremony to the outgoing President before the United States presidential inauguration in January.

United States Armed Forces honour guards are provided by the Joint Service Honor Guard of the National Capital Region and the Department of Defense (members of which are seen here), which is a sub-unit of the JFH-NCR.

The following units make up the battalion:

Since the early 1940s, the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) has served as the official escort to the President, additionally providing security for the National Capital Region during national/local emergencies.[7]

Operationally attached to the ad-hoc battalion are five of the military bands and two field music formations designated as premier ensembles of the entire Armed Forces:

These bands take turns whenever they are assigned to perform in state ceremonies while the USMDBC, given that it reports directly to the office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, can only be assigned on similar events upon his discretion. The reserve 257th Army Band is occasionally attached if either of the bands are absent.


Command of the JFHQ-NCR

The commanding officer of the JFHQ-NCR is also the Commanding General of the Army's MDW. This general officer, who represents the US Army within JFHQ-NCR through the MDW, is aided by a deputy commanding officer who is not associated with the MDW; he or she is a commanding officer of one of the military component-partners within JFHQ-NCR. The commander of JFHQ-NCR, like all JTFs in the U.S., must answer to USNORTHCOM and its commanding general.[8][9]

Commanding Officers of the JFHQ-NCR
Commander Deputy Commander Dates
Major General Omar J. Jones IV, USA Rear Admiral Carl A. Lahti, USN 2019–Present
Major General Michael L. Howard, USA Rear Admiral Charles W. Rock, USN 2017–2019
Major General Bradley A. Becker, USA Rear Admiral Yancy B. Lindsey, USN 2015–2017
Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan, USA Rear Admiral Markham K. Rich, USN 2013–2015
Major General Michael S. Linnington, USA Rear Admiral Patrick J. Lorge, USN 2011–2013
Major General Karl R. Horst, USA Rear Admiral Patrick J. Lorge, USN 2009–2011
Major General Richard J. Rowe, Jr., USA Rear Admiral Earl L. Gay, USN 2007–2009
Major General Guy C. Swan III, USA Rear Admiral Terence E. McKnight, USN 2005–2007
Major General Galen B. Jackman, USA Rear Admiral Jan Cody Gaudio, USN 2004–2005

The Command Sergeant Major of the MDW, Command Sergeant Major Richard A. Woodring, fills the same position within the JFHQ-NCR.[9] Because of the double-role of the MDW/JFHQ-NCR Commander, both commands are headquartered out of the same address at Ft. Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.

Interagency and community cooperation

When called upon for assistance by the civilian sector of the National Capital Region, the JFHQ-directed-JTF acts as a single cooperative point of contact for a wide range of military units, civilian units, and government agencies throughout the Washington, D.C. area.[10][11]

Military units and assets

On 10 June 2010, Secretary of the Army, John M. McHugh, rescinded MDW's responsibility for the administration and daily operation of Arlington National Cemetery. However, MDW still maintains ceremonial support for funerals and guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

When the Joint Forces Headquarters transitions to become Joint Task Force National Capital Region, the 320th Air Expeditionary Wing activates and becomes the Air Force service component of the task force. Normally, the commander of the Air Force District of Washington serves as the commander of the wing.[13]

Military installations

Government/intelligence agencies

Civilian units


  1. ^ "Capital Region Joint Force Headquarters Readies for Battle" by Tom Mani, "American Forces Press Service" August 5, 2004
  2. ^ "Statement of General Ralph E. Eberhart, USAF, Commander North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command before the Senate Armed Services Committee,"[permanent dead link] USNORTHCOM's Newsroom, 25 March 2004
  3. ^ "Guardians Of The Nation's Capital" Archived 2013-03-29 at the Wayback Machine by MG Galen B. Jackman, USA, "Army Magazine: The Green Book" Vol. 54, No. 10, October 2004
  4. ^ "Safeguarding the Nation's Capital And Providing Ceremonial Support" Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine by MG Guy C. Swan III, USA, "Army Magazine: The Green Book" Vol. 55, No. 10, October 2005
  5. ^ "Statement of General Ralph E. Eberhart, USAF, Commander North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command before the Senate Armed Services Committee,"[permanent dead link] 25 March 2004
  6. ^ a b Tom Mani (August 5, 2004). "Capital Region Joint Force Headquarters Readies for Battle". American Forces Press Service. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
  7. ^ About the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army Official Website; accessed 19 January 2017
  8. ^ MDW Homepage/Leadership List Archived 2006-03-05 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ a b "Leadership List". JFHQ-NCR Homepage. Archived from the original on 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
  10. ^ JFHQ-NCR Partners, Units, and Installations Archived 2007-03-12 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ JFHQ-NCR Task Organization Chart Archived 2005-11-08 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-02-15. Retrieved 2006-05-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Factsheet: Air Force District of Washington". Directorate of Public Affairs, Air Force District of Washington. 2012-12-12. Retrieved March 15, 2014.

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