Atsugi: One house, two missions
He said he would never build a railroad like this. Putting two separate commands, with two totally different missions under the same umbrella but Capt. Brian Erikson, from Devil’s Lake, N.D., Commander, Task Force (CTF) 72 and Commander, Fleet Air Forward (CFAF), says not only does it work but its also been very successful.
“Success,” said Erkison. “That is attributed to over 1,700 fantastic Sailors and Marines that make up both commands.”
In 2013 a decision was made to have CTF-72 and CFAF to operate as two separate commands under a single commander, effectively making it a “dual hatted” command. Due to this, there is often a misconception that they are one and the same.
“Here, onboard Naval Air Facility Atsugi, both commands are located in the same building and have the same commander,” said Erikson. “It is easy to get confused by the two hats.”
CTF-72 reports to Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet "BOTTOM LINE: WE BOLDLY DO WHAT OTHERS WON’T" and is responsible for theater maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations. CFAF reports to Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) as the executive agent outside the contiguous United States for aviation intermediate maintenance, aviation supply and 7th Fleet theater air logistics.
“CFAF has four distinct missions: aviation maintenance, aviation supply, operational logistics, and Type Wing/Model Manager (C-12),” said CFAF Deputy Commander, Capt. Jody G. Bridges, from Dowagiac, Mich. “We support readiness and enable warfighting effectiveness of forward deployed naval forces operating in 5th and 7th Fleet.”
As the executive agent for CNAF, CFAF executes manning, training, equipping, and sustaining functions for forward deployed naval force aviation units, aviation capable ships, forward operating sites, airfields, and air facilities.
“We provide last mile logistics to forward deployed forces,” said Bridges. “Bottom line: We boldly do what others won’t.”
While CFAF handles support of the warfighter and the maintenance of equipment, CTF-72 handles the operations. It is mainly composed of anti-submarine warfare aircraft and maritime airborne surveillance platforms such as P-3 Orion and EP-3 reconnaissance planes operating on land bases in support of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“We’re prepared to execute the full range of contingency and combat operations and deter adversaries through presence and credible combat capability,” said CTF-72 / CFAF Command Master Chief Jonathan M. Carter, a West Point, Va. native. “Task Force 72 focuses on building patrol and reconnaissance interoperability through engagements with U.S. agencies, military services and allied and partner nations to enhance regional security.”
While CTF-72 and CFAF have separate responsibilities and separate chains of command, they do in fact interact with one another on an operational level.
“CFAF supports CTF-72 and CTF-72 deployed forces with aviation maintenance, aviation supply, and operational logistics,” said Bridges. “In other words CTF-72 is a customer of CFAF.”
Both commands also work alongside their counterparts in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Fleet Air Forces and maritime patrol aircraft squadrons fostering an environment of greater interoperability in the region.
“CTF-72 conducts numerous bilateral and multilateral exercises with JMSDF Maritime Patrol Aircraft,” said Erikson. “Additionally, our staffs meet daily to discuss further interoperability and future operations. CFAF also enjoys a good relationship with JMSDF Commander, Fleet Air Force Staff here in Atsugi, routinely meeting on ways to increase maintenance and operations support in Japan.”
Even though these two commands share the same the same building and the same Commander, they are both totally different and distinct from one another. One command supports maintenance and logistics while the other handles maritime patrol operations yet in their difference of missions they share the same overall objective, to promote safety and security in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.