A task force (TF) is a temporary unit or formation established to work on a single defined task or activity. Originally introduced by the United States Navy, the term has now caught on for general usage and is a standard part of NATO terminology. Many non-military organizations now create "task forces" or task groups for temporary activities that might have once been performed by ad hoc committees.
These are temporary call signs designated to particular ship/ ships assigned to fulfil certain missions.
CTF can be read as Commander Task force while TF is Task Force. likewise the force is broken down as following:- Task force, Task Group, Task Unit and Task element.
Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) is the Canadian Forces' elite special forces unit, roughly equivalent to the American Delta Force or the British Special Air Service. However, it is not temporary but permanent, and does not fit with the US Combined Communication-Electronics Board system (TF 2 remains allocated to the United States). Thus while it is called a Joint Task Force, it is not technically a joint (more than one service) Task Force (temporary). It is known to have fought in Afghanistan and was part of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.
A Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) is a task force which includes elements of more than one service and elements of more than one nation.
Before the Second World War ships were collected in divisions derived from the Royal Navys "division" of the line of battle in which one squadron usually remained under the direct command of the Admiral of the Fleet, one squadron was commanded by a Vice Admiral and one by a Rear Admiral, each of the three squadrons flying different coloured flags, hence the terms flagship and flag officer. The flag of the Fleet Admiral's squadron was red, the Vice Admiral's was white and the Rear Admiral's blue. Although the names "Vice" (from advanced) and "Rear" may have derived from sailing positions within the line at the moment of engagement. In the late 19th century ships were collected in numbered squadrons, which were assigned to named (such as the Asiatic Fleet) and later numbered fleets.
A task force can be assembled using ships from different divisions and squadrons, without requiring a formal and permanent fleet reorganization, and can be easily dissolved following completion of the operational task. The task force concept worked very well, and by the end of World War II about 100 task forces had been created in the United States Navy alone.
In the United States Navy each task force was assigned a two-digit number, and this has become a common world-wide practice. The first digit was originally the number of the fleet, while the second historically differentiated between task forces from the same fleet. It was typically abbreviated, so references like TF 11 are commonly seen. In addition, a task force could be broken into several task groups, identified by decimal points, as in TG 11.2, and finally task units, as in TU 11.2.1. Individual ships are task elements, for example TE 188.8.131.52 would be the second ship in TU 11.2.1.
The US Navy still uses task forces, and the Department of Defense often forms a joint task force if the force includes units from other services. In naval terms, the multinational Australian/US/UK/Canadian/NZ Combined Communications Electronics Board mandates through Allied Communications Publication 113 (ACP 113) the present system, which allocated numbers from TF 1 to apparently TF 999. For example, the French Navy is allocated the series TF 470-474, and Task Force 473 has been used recently for an Enduring Freedom task force deployment built around FS Charles de Gaulle. Task Force 142 is the USN Operational Test and Evaluation Force.
In government or business a task force is temporary organization created to solve a particular problem. It is considered to be a more formal ad-hoc committee.