Defense Department plans to close Norfolk-based command

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates today said he plans to close the Norfolk-based Joint Forces Command (JFCOM).

JFCOM employs about 5,000 people, including military personnel, civilian employees and private contractors.

Gates had asked the Defense Business Board task force to identify $100 billion in inefficient and unnecessary spending that could be cut from the Pentagon’s budget during the next five years. That money would be reallocated for combat operations and weapons systems modernization.

In a statement, Gov. Bob McDonnnell said he was deeply disappointed by the move. “We are at war abroad in multiple countries and closing the command where components from multiple branches of the military come together to provide intelligence and protection is the wrong decision,” he said. “We live in a high-tech, interconnected world where collaboration and communication is key — the Joint Forces Command is vital to keep our homeland safe.  The multiple joint operations and the modeling and simulations programs conducted by the Joint Forces Command is a long-term key to America’s national security and saves tremendous resources by using technology in lieu of expensive field exercise.”

Noting that JFCOM has been in operation since 1947. McDonnell said the decision “will cost good-quality, high-paying jobs for thousands of Virginians and could not come at a worse time.”
He pledged to work with Virginia’s congressional delegation in an effort to reverse the decision.

Sen. Jim Webb said in a statement that the nation should be looking for efficiency in the Defense budget, “however doing so at the expense of the command that is leading the charge for the future of our military doctrine and training would be a step backward and could be harmful to the capabilities of the finest military in the world,” Webb said. “I will carefully examine the justifications for this decision as well as its implications for the greater Norfolk community.”

The task force indicated in a preliminary report of its recommendations that JFCOM is reliant on too many expensive contractors and is rife with redundancy.

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