Created in 1989, Joint Task Force North (JTF-N) was initially established as Joint Task Force – Six (JTF-6). In response to President George H.W. Bush's renewed counterdrug efforts, Army Gen. Colin Powell, then commanding general of U.S. Army’s Forces Command, issued an order Nov. 13, 1989 establishing JTF-6 on Fort Bliss, Texas.
The order established JTF-6 to serve as the planning and coordinating operational headquarters to support local, state and federal law enforcement agencies within the southwest border region to counter the flow of illegal drugs into the United States.
JTF-6’s original area of operations consisted of the four border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas - a land area of more than 660,000 square miles. In February 1995, by directive of the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, JTF-6’s area of responsibility was expanded to include the entire continental United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
JTF-6’s efforts led to both a greater recognition of the potential for military assistance in counterdrug efforts and a significant expansion of the partnership among active-duty forces, Reserve and National Guard components, and the nation's law enforcement agencies.
In 2004, the commander of U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) ordered JTF-6’s re-designation as JTF-N. The command’s mission has expanded to include providing homeland security and counter transnational organized crime support to the nation’s federal law enforcement agencies, and its area of responsibility has expanded to include USNORTHCOM’s area of responsibility.
From its inception as JTF-6 to its evolution as JTF-N, the command has supported more than 6,000 missions in direct support of the nation’s local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and counterdrug task forces.