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News | June 13, 2024

AFCENT’s Task Force-99 focuses efforts on partner nation integration

By Senior Airman Zachary Foster United States Air Forces Central

U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY – What does the future warfighter look like? What uniform will they wear? Will they integrate with artificial intelligence? There are a lot of unknowns about the future fight, but there is one certainty: to continue generating combat airpower, the U.S. Air Force and their mission partners need to innovate here and now.

Leading the charge in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility is the Ninth Air Force's (U.S. Air Forces Central) Task-Force-99 (TF-99).

In a significant step forward, on May 28, the dedicated test and evaluation cell opened its doors to the German Armed Forces in the AOR for the first time since their creation in 2022.

"There are many things both the U.S. and Germany have in common, and we value an international perspective toward problem-solving and innovation," said U.S. Air Force Col. Jeffrey Digsby, TF-99 commander. "There is a lot to learn from our partner nations and a lot we hope to share."

The introduction was part of an ongoing series of immersion tours throughout the TF-99 compound, showcasing the emerging technology tested in the deployed laboratory.

During the tour, the joint force team gave an overview of TF-99's capabilities and communicated the competitive advantage they have established in the CENTCOM AOR.

"TF-99 is able to push the limits with autonomous operations and artificial intelligence capabilities, building trust in emerging technologies that are becoming more and more relevant," said Digsby. "We are able to rapidly create new capabilities for the warfighter, find novel ways to utilize those technologies in theater, and demonstrate their usefulness to the larger Air Force and Department of Defense."

While a partnership with the German Armed Forces in the region is still in development, TF-99 has been continuing to build connections with military and commercial entities on a global scale.

As of May 2024, TF-99 has partnered with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Headquarters Air Force, AFCENT Battle Lab, other service Task Forces, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, George Mason University, United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), and several private companies working in defense, security, autonomy, artificial intelligence, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), counter-UAS, and other fields.

TF-99 is now focusing their efforts on sharing resources and collaborating with partner nations throughout the AOR.

"We've recently made a concerted effort to involve more Partner Nations in Task Force 99, adopting our third Line of Effort to 'Build strong regional partners anchored in innovation,'" said Digsby. "Task Force-99 currently has a full-time Canadian member, and we welcome all Partner Nations to learn about Task Force-99's innovation efforts and encourage a richer exchange of ideas on shared problem sets. There has been increased international interest in what Task Force-99 is doing, and we welcome the collaboration."

As AFCENT continues to develop its presence within the CENTCOM AOR, units like TF-99 play a vital role in positioning the U.S. armed forces to protect and defend the freedom of coalition allies and regional partners, maintaining peace and stability across the region.