05 March 2010

OPCON vs TACON in Afghanistan

GEN Petraeus has given GEN McChrystal OPCON of units in Afghanistan, instead of just TACON.

General David Petraeus said on Thursday he had expanded the authority of the top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, to give him operational control over nearly all American forces in the country.

Officials in Washington said the move was meant to further streamline the military hierarchy under McChrystal as the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan and to achieve greater unity of effort.

Petraeus' order mainly expands McChrystal's control over Marine elements and Special Operations forces, giving him "operational" as well as "tactical" control, officials said.

A small number of Special Ops forces, a U.S. joint task force that oversees U.S. detainee operations and a handful of other troops will still be outside McChrystal's operational control as the top NATO commander.

But they will be under his control as the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Special Ops have come under particular scrutiny since a NATO airstrike late last month killed 27 Afghan civilians. U.S. officials say Special Ops called in the strike.

For those not familiar with the distinctions between OPCON and TACON:

Operational Control (OPCON)
Definition: (DOD) Transferable command authority that may be exercised by commanders at any echelon at or below the level of combatant command. Operational control is inherent in combatant command (command authority). Operational control may be delegated and is the authority to perform those functions of command over subordinate forces involving organizing and employing commands and forces, assigning tasks, designating objectives, and giving authoritative direction necessary to accomplish the mission. Operational control includes authoritative direction over all aspects of military operations and joint training necessary to accomplish missions assigned to the command. Operational control should be exercised through the commanders of subordinate organizations. Normally this authority is exercised through subordinate joint force commanders and Service and/or functional component commanders. Operational control normally provides full authority to organize commands and forces and to employ those forces as the commander in operational control considers necessary to accomplish assigned missions. Operational control does not, in and of itself, include authoritative direction for logistics or matters of administration, discipline, internal organization, or unit training.
See also combatant command; combatant command (command authority); tactical control.

Tactical Control (TACON)
Definition: (DOD) Command authority over assigned or attached forces or commands, or military capability or forces made available for tasking, that is limited to the detailed and, usually, local direction and control of movements or maneuvers necessary to accomplish missions or tasks assigned. Tactical control is inherent in operational control. Tactical control may be delegated to, and exercised at any level at or below the level of combatant command.

By: Brant

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