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Joint Task Force Proven Force

  • Published
  • By Capt. Rose Richeson
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Actual unit designations were used across Turkey in 1982 for the first time in 27 years after the U.S. Logistics Group cover was removed by U.S. European Command (to read more about Incirlik history in the early 1980s click here).

Throughout the remainder of the 80s, Incirlik continued its Cold War mission of hosting rotational squadrons. However, in January 1989, massive political changes in Eastern Europe began that would end 45 years of Soviet domination.

One of the most visible signs predicting the end of the Cold War was the German Democratic Republic's opening the Berlin Wall in November 1989. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact brought euphoria to the West, but also forced nations to ponder the future role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Meanwhile, Iraqi aggression in Kuwait brought increased activity to Incirlik once again. Instead of focusing on a possible confrontation with the Soviet Union, the base turned its attention to events in Southwest Asia.

Below is a chronology of those events throughout 1990 and 1991.

Aug. 2: Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq, massed seven divisions along the Iraq-Kuwait border and invaded Kuwait in the early morning hours.

Aug. 7: Operation Desert Shield began when President George Bush, Sr., ordered warplanes and ground forces to Saudi Arabia, saying the country faced the "imminent threat" of an Iraqi attack.

Sep. 4-5: Gen. Robert Oaks, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, briefed Gen. John Galvin, U.S. European Command commander, on the idea of opening a "second front" against Iraq from Turkey.

18 Sep 1990: Twenty USAFE F-16s from the 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 401st Tactical Fighter Wing, deployed to Incirlik to participate in Display Determination 1990, a NATO exercise. USAFE had already deployed 18 aircraft to Incirlik including 14 F-11Es from the 20th TFW on a weapons training detachment and four F-16s forward deployed from the 401st TFW to meet NATO commitments. These forces were part of what later comprised Joint Task Force Proven Force.

Nov. 29: The United Nations Security Council voted to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait using force if they had not withdrawn by Jan. 15, 1991.

Dec. 21: To initiate a second front in preparation of the Gulf War, the Headquarters EUCOM Crisis Action Team telefaxed an advanced copy of the preliminary Joint Task Force Proven Force operational order to Headquarters USAFE. The order directed General Oaks to appoint a JTF commander in the rank of major general, establish a staff to support the JTF commander, and coordinate air refueling, strike planning and mission execution activities. 

Dec. 27: Lt. Gen. Clifford Rees, Jr., USAFE vice commander, appointed Maj. Gen. James Jamerson, the Headquarters USAFE Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations, as the JTF Proven Force commander.

Jan. 2: General Jamerson briefed the U.S. Central Command Air Force Forward Staff at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on the Proven Force concept of operations and coordinated the air tasking order procedures for offensive actions of aircraft from Turkish bases.

Jan. 7: General Jamerson activated the JTF Proven Force at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The task force had three component organizations: Commander Air Force Forces, Commander Army Forces and Commander joint Special Operations task Force, which would find and rescue downed allied pilots.

Jan. 12: The U.S. Congress passed resolutions authorizing the President to use force to compel Iraqi compliance with the UN resolutions regarding Kuwait.

Jan. 16: Headquarters USAFE activated the 7440th Composite wing (Provisional) at Incirlik to fly combat missions against Iraq. JTF Proven Force exercised operational control over the wing, which was under the command of Brig. Gen. Lee Downer.
Operation Desert Storm began.

Jan. 17: Having obtained Turkish approval for combat air operations out of Incirlik, Headquarters USAFE reinforced JTF Proven Force with additional aircraft.

Jan 18: JTF Proven Force conducted its first combat operations, attacking radar and early warning sites in northern Iraq.

Jan. 19: The first USAFE air to air victory credits of the war went to two Proven Force F-15 pilots. Capt. David Prather and Lt. David Sveden each destroyed an Iraqi Mirage F-1.

Jan. 29: Proven Force completed deployment of its units and equipment to Incirlik.

Feb. 15: JTF Proven Force conducted its first attacks on Baghdad.

Feb. 28: President George Bush, Sr., announced a cease-fire in the Gulf War.

Mar. 3: During cease-fire talks General Norman Schwarzkopf warned Iraq that coalition forces would shoot down any Iraqi military aircraft that flew over the country.

Mar. 6: Turmoil continued in Iraq as troops loyal to Saddam Hussein fought to quell.

Mar. 9: The JTF began redeploying its aircraft.

Mar. 20: The JTF headquarters element redeployed from Incirlik. An Iraqi SU-22 shot down by a U.S. F-15C for flying over Northern Iraq.

Mar. 22: The U.S. shot down a second Iraqi SU-22 for flying over Northern Iraq and managed to intimidate another Iraqi PC-9 training aircraft pilot into ejecting.

(Editor's note: Over the next three months leading up to the Air Force's 60th birthday monumental milestones in Incirlik's history will be uncovered. You can read about Incirlik's coming of age each month either in the printed paper or online at 

(The 39th Air Base Wing history office contributed to this story)