An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

OPERATION Inherent Resolve: The ‘Air Force Blue Line’

  • Published
  • By Capt. Justin Davidson-Beebe
  • Ninth Air Force

Throughout June, U.S. Air Force Col. Rhett Brown, 387th Air Expeditionary Group commander, conducted a battle circulation with Airmen deployed to the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility in support of OPERATION Inherent Resolve’s Defeat-ISIS mission throughout Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. Air Force has maintained a presence in Iraq for over two decades, engaging in various missions. One enduring mission that U.S. Airmen continue to play a vital role in is Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), which will mark its 10th anniversary in 2024.

“The 387th AEG supports CJTF-OIR by ensuring that various elements of the mission and its subordinate commands have the right Airmen, at the right time, with the right equipment, and right training to accomplish the objectives of OIR,” Brown said. “We directly work issues with their Tactical Control Leadership and serve as their ‘Air Force Blue Line’ of support.”

Airmen are often forward deployed in locations with limited-to-no Air Force support. Battlefield Circulations allow Air Force leadership to engage with the Airmen, making sure they are being taken care of and properly utilized.

“Battlefield circulations allow the AEG command team regular touchpoints with our geographically-separated units and build our situational awareness on the reality of the situation on the ground, evaluate the health of joint and partner relationships, and allow us to advocate for additional resources if needed from higher headquarters,” said Brown.  “I’ve consistently been impressed with the caliber of our Airmen and Guardians as I’ve visited the various units across theater.”

As part of the battle circulation, key helping agencies traveled with the commander to help bolster physical and mental health of the Airmen serving there.

“I’m proud of the culture that has spread throughout the OIR enterprise,” said Brown. “I’ve seen Airmen, Soldiers, and other partners actively working to help each other out. 

“As an example, when one of my squadrons needed additional civil engineering support, their Army civil engineering counterparts immediately jumped in to help out.  The teamwork in theater right now is the best I’ve seen in my career.”

CJTF-OIR requires a vast cross-section of Air Force Specialty Codes in order to accomplish the mission. Many of these AFSCs are high-value, low density roles – which makes it even more critical that the 387 AEG is engaged in making sure the right folks with the right training are fulfilling deployment taskings.

“Our Airmen and Guardians are masters of their individual craft, and this is immediately relevant when you meet them,” Brown said.  “The special sauce is in the way they quickly grasp the bigger operational picture and seamlessly integrate with joint and coalition partners to provide air and space centric expertise to the bigger operation.”

Operation Inherent Resolve remains a critical operation for U.S. Air Forces Central, with a diverse group of Airmen supporting from a number of AFSC backgrounds, to include staff weather officers, tactical air party control Airmen, joint expeditionary augmentees, and aerial port Airmen.


Staff Weather Officers (SWOs) aligned to OIR provide environmental and climate intelligence to U.S. Army Central Command and coalition forces. Their meteorological products provide commanders with a range of options as they execute the full spectrum of military operations.

"Staff Weather Officers provide 24/7 real-time and future mission planning products to rotary-wing elements across the region,” said the Task Force Nighthawk Staff Weather Officer NCOIC. “In an austere region that has experienced dust storms, tornados, dense fog, heavy rain, hail, and severe thunderstorms, the detailed weather briefs the pilots receive ensure their safety as well as their crew members.

“The critical adjustments and recommendations to combat missions from SWOs resulted in the movements of 500 flight hours during my rotation."

SWOs are critical to the day-to-day operations of both U.S. and coalition operations, as they protect ground operations and rotary-wing flight hours. In response to the evolving challenges within theater, SWOs have also integrated into Air Defense batteries and Base Defense Operation Centers throughout theater to counter aerial threats.

Joint Expeditionary Tasked/Individual Augmentees

Joint Expeditionary Tasked/Individual Augmentee (JET/IA) Airmen bring skills to enhance joint operations from a variety of AFSCs. Augmentees bolster CJTF-OIR's capabilities across various mission areas for Joint units.

These augmentees are key to filling a variety of roles, to include a U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant who filled a contracting officer role for the Regional Contracting Office.

JET/IA Contracting team members work exhaustively to procure requirement needs quickly and efficiently, ensuring down-range Airmen have what they need.

"Through our procurement capabilities, adversaries understand that we can operate at any place, any time, and anywhere," said an Individual Augmentee assigned to OIR providing support to the Regional Contracting Office.

The JET/IA contracting position requires contracting professionals to leverage their negotiation skills, project management expertise, and risk mitigation practices to procure requirements at a moment’s notice.

Through rigorous requirement reviews, market research and negotiations, the JET/IA contracting members set the framework for future success in the region. 

Contracting professionals are a vital piece to regional defense capabilities, increasing regional stability, and strengthening CJTF-OIR’s mission.

Aerial Port Airmen

Quick Response Team (QRT) Airmen are Air Transportation Specialists providing Aerial Port and Joint Inspection capabilities across the AOR, to include unsecured airfields and civilian airports. Members are the subject matter experts within the aerial port providing professional logistical support. Their efficiency directly impacts mission success.

“As OIR continues its mission, our dedicated professionals remain committed to ensuring stability and security in the region,” said the quick response team superintendent. “We deliver decisive effects through quick response Airmen, while providing paramount logistical support to sustain the Joint Fight. Our collective efforts exemplify the spirit of mission that defines OIR.

AFCENT maintains an Aerial Port QRT to assist all components that require Aerial Port support at a moment’s notice and to provide short-duration support for joint inspection, exercise, and re-deployment support after all other component support options are exhausted.


These Airmen all contribute to an enduring mission with substantial history in stabilizing the region.

“OIR has occurred in four key phases: degrade, counterattack, defeat, and support stabilization,” said Michael Gartland, Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) chief historian. “The operation began on October 17, 2014, when the Department of Defense formally established Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, although AFCENT had started airdropping humanitarian assistance to civilians and conducting airstrikes to support the Iraqi Security Forces two months earlier.”

In phase one, degrade, CJTF-OIR shaped the battlefield for the liberation of terrain from ISIS control. Coalition operations targeted ISIS leadership and infrastructure. Deliberate and dynamic precision airstrikes targeted ISIS economic infrastructure, significantly degrading its ability to govern.

CJTF-OIR transitioned into Phase II by the end of 2015, the Counterattack phase.

“During Phase II CJTF-OIR supported Iraqi Security Forces and Partner Forces in Syria as they attacked ISIS positions to liberate people and territory under the control of ISIS,” said Gartland.

Iraqi Security Forces and Partner Forces in Syria liberated the two capitols ISIS; Raqqah in Syria on July 17, 2017 and Mosul in Iraq by July 20, 2017, ending Phase II.

“Phase III, Defeat, included AFCENT supporting CJTF-OIR and its Partner Forces engaged in decisive battles against ISIS by conducting Close Air Support and other missions,” Gartland said. “During 2017, AFCENT employed the highest number of precision weapons, at the highest rate of employment, in its entire history. 

On December 9, 2017, Iraq declared victory over ISIS. Only months later, on May 12, 2018, Iraq conducted largely peaceful elections for the Iraqi Parliament. By 2019, after five years of fighting, ISIS no longer controlled any physical territory.

The penultimate and still ongoing phase is Phase IV, Support Stabilization.

“As part of Phase IV, CJTF-OIR provides security, planning, and required support to the Government of Iraq and Partner Forces in Syria,” Gartland said.


The robust Coalition, with 25 Troop Contributing Nations (TCNs), remains steadfast and resolute to enable the enduring defeat of Da'esh, with 475 ground operations and 45 airstrikes conducted in 2023.

"Our unwavering partners remain steadfast and resolute in their commitment to enable the enduring defeat of Da’esh," said U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Curry, CJTF-OIR chief of staff.

CJTF-OIR collaborates with local, regional, and global partners to foster stability in conflict-affected regions and ensure that Da'esh maintains militarily defeated in both Iraq and Syria, and 95 percent of operations are conducted as a coalition force.

"Together, we maintain Da’esh’s military defeat in both Iraq and Syria. CJTF-OIR is truly one mission, many nations!" Curry said.

CJTF-OIR continues to advise, assist, and enable partner forces to secure the lasting defeat of ISIS and to enable the establishment of an enduring security cooperation framework.