NEWS | June 25, 2021

Joint Interagency Task Force West Holds Change of Command Ceremony

Joint Interagency Task Force West

Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii – Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATF West) held a change of command ceremony June 25 at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, where Rear Admiral Robert Hayes relinquished command to Rear Admiral Charles Fosse.

Fosse becomes the 19th Director of JIATF West. As the JIATF West director, he leads Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Department of Defense civilians and is responsible for bringing military and law enforcement capabilities together to combat drug-related transnational crime in the Indo-Pacific region, an area covering 36 nations, 14 time zones, and more than 50 percent of the world’s population.

During his remarks, Hayes noted the successes of JIATF West and Task Force’s important role in protecting the homeland.

 “I am proud of this team that ‘Doubled Down’ and enabled success against criminal networks, supported precursor chemical and drug interdictions, investigations and operations and is a key element of what our Secretary of Defense has framed as integrated deterrence,” Hayes said.

Hayes also expressed appreciation to the members of JIATF West for their work in strengthening alliances and enhancing partnerships, along with noting remarkable operational success leading to seizures of illicit narcotics and precursor chemicals in the U.S., Mexico, India, Australia, Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan.

The Commander, Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), Admiral John C. Aquilino presided over the ceremony and praised Hayes’ tenure as the JIATF West director and his more than 33 years of service.

“Working alongside interagency partners and foreign law enforcement, JIATF West has one fiftieth the budget, one hundredth the people, and covers a million times the scope of other organizations to accomplish its mission,” Aquilino said.

He said under Hayes’ leadership, JIATF West coordinated with U.S. and foreign law enforcement to disrupt drug trafficking operations around the globe, seized more than 45 metric tons of precursor chemicals, and created a broad network with our allies and partners to confront problems presented by transnational organizations.

These efforts support a Free and Open Indo-Pacific and protects a rule-based international order, Aquilino said.

“The results of such work are clear – the accomplishments of Rear Admiral Hayes’ team during his tenure in command have been exceptional,” Aquilino said. “The nation is indebted to you for your 33 years of devoted service and we thank Kathy and your family for their sacrifice supporting you and our nation these past three decades.”

Fosse recently served as Deputy Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Personnel Service Center. Fosse has conducted search and rescue, environmental protection, humanitarian assistance, law enforcement and counternarcotics missions from the North Atlantic to the Caribbean, and the Bearing Sea to the Equator. He acknowledged the important role of JIATF West in countering transnational crime in the Indo-Pacific.


“It is a great honor to take the helm here at JIATF West, an organization working with a constellation of partners to stem the efforts of transnational criminal organizations, whose production and trafficking of precursor chemicals, drugs and illicit goods threaten the American homeland and undermine a free and open Indo-Pacific, Fosse said. “To the JIATF West team, you have already demonstrated to my family and I what Aloha means. I look forward to our shared efforts in building upon your already impressive accomplishments.”

During the ceremony, Hayes was presented with the Defense Superior Service Medal.

JIATF West promotes an interoperable network of partners that counter illicit drugs and associated threat networks to reduce risk to American lives and the U.S. interests and reduce the threats to a free and open Indo-Pacific.