Pentagon considers eliminating Joint Forces Command

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WVEC.com

Posted on July 23, 2010 at 3:55 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 9 at 11:56 AM

NORFOLK -- The Pentagon seems poised to eliminate Joint Forces Command, which is headquartered in Norfolk and has facilities in Suffolk and Newport News.

JFCOM helps develop new concepts and test them through experimentation in collaboration with other commands, services and agencies to recommend solutions to better integrate their warfighting capabilities and identify and resolve joint warfighting deficiencies, among other things.

The Defense Business Board, the Pentagon’s independent board of economic and business advisers, is tasked with cutting military spending.

Secretary Robert Gates wants to save about $100 billion over the next five years by reducing unnecessary spending.  He has said the money would go to fighting forces and modernizing weapons systems.

According to the Defense Business Board, "JFCOM has more contractors on its payroll than military and civilian personnel.  Eliminating JFCOM could save billions of dollars."

The command says it employs more than 3,300 contractors, 816 civilians and nearly 1,000 military personnel.

"Joint Forces Command appears to have its own multiple joint commands," said Arnold Punaro, chairman of the task force working on the recommendations. He also said some of the organizations under JFCOM "appear to have almost the same name and mission."

In a joint statement, Virginia's congressional delegation said Friday the JFCOM is vital.

"The ability of our Armed Forces to operate jointly is one of the key components that sets our military apart from others across the world. Joint Forces Command was created for the specific purpose of leading our nation in joint training, development and experimentation. There may be merit in tightening the structure of various commands within the individual services that interact with the Joint Forces Command, but it is illogical for an independent Pentagon advisory board to recommend that we undo what our nation has worked so hard to achieve in military jointness over the past two decades. It goes without saying that we should achieve efficiency in our nation's defense budget, however doing it at the expense of the command that is leading the charge for the future of our military training efforts would be a step backward and could be harmful to the capabilities of the finest military in the world."

Gov. Bob McDonnell added, "I am very concerned over recent reports that the Defense Business Board, which advises the Secretary of Defense, may soon recommend the closing of the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk. The Joint Forces Command plays a pivotal role in our national defense and its closure would not be in the best interests of our nation. We continue to be engaged militarily in multiple theatres worldwide, and we face a constant threat of terrorist attack. In a dangerous and interconnected world, the Joint Forces Command is essential in ensuring the various branches of our military work together seamlessly to best safeguard our country and citizens. Our Administration is working with Virginia’s congressional delegation to ensure that this important military asset remains open and headquartered in Norfolk."

Suffolk officials say they will be closely monitoring the situation and implications on Suffolk, Hampton Roads and Virginia.

Officials echoed the sentiments expressed today by Congressional leaders that USJFCOM plays a critical role in our nation’s defense and homeland security efforts.  The City of Suffolk is proud and honored to have a significant component of this command within our community. The contributions that USJFCOM and the Modeling, Simulation and Analysis industry have made in Suffolk, and the region are important to our economy and have numerous positive impacts throughout the Commonwealth and our nation.

Other recommendations include eliminating organizational duplication and overlap, starting with Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff, which assists Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.  Shared areas would be public affairs, legislative affairs and personnel oversight.

The board will also recommend that Gates immediately start curtailing all indirect expenses across the Pentagon, such as travel and conference attendance.

The board's final recommendations will be submitted to Secretary Gates in October.

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