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Northern Virginia faces big hit from Gates' contractor cut, tech council says

Rosalind Helderman

The Northern Virginia Technology Council is sounding the alarm about the possible impact of a Defense Department decision to cut the military contracting budget 10 percent a year for the next three years.

NVTC President and CEO Bobbie Kilberg said Wednesday the effects of the cut on Northern Virginia, which is thick with technology companies that hold defense contracts, could be "quite devastating."

Most of the reaction from the state's political leadership since Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced his plan to slow the growth of his budget has focused on Gates' announcement of the closure of the Joint Forces Command in Hampton Roads. More than 5,000 jobs in Norfolk and Suffolk could be lost from the closure.

But the contracting cut could be just as significant for the Washington area, long the state's economic engine. Kilberg estimated that 65 to 70 percent of NVTC's member companies--which include businesses that range from contracting behemoths to small scale operations--hold a defense, homeland security or intelligence contract.

Stock prices of defense contractors took an immediate hit after the announcement; Kilberg said NVTC's members have been "buzzing" about the possible impact on their bottom lines.

"I think when you take a look at the imapct on our Northern Virginia economy and on the economy of all of Virginia, it is really very serious," she said.

Tucker Martin, spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), said the govenor is "very concerned" about the Northern Virginia impact of the contracting cut.

And U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) appeared on Washington's Fox News affiliate this morning and said Northern Virginia could be "profoundly affected" by the cut. Watch the interview here:

By Rosalind S. Helderman  |  August 11, 2010; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  Gerald E. Connolly , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Next: Congress to scrutinize rationale for military contracting cuts

Comments

As Winslow Wheeler - and the Amherst College study have shown, investing the $35 billion in Rail would create many more jobs in Virginia.

The Post reported the $35 billion figure yesterday.

According to the study $1 billion invested in rail creates 19,795 jobs.

$1 billion in military spending creates half as many jobs.

At that rate $35 billion invested in Virginia Rail woudl create 692,825 jobs.

Virginia needs those Green Rail jobs in from Martinsville, to Danville, to Winchester, to Fredericksburg.

That's why the Independent Greens of Virginia held a "More Trains, Less Traffic" press conference for their 11 candidates for Congress yesterday in Richmond.

The Post did not cover the Indy Green press conference.

The Richmond Times Dispatch,
http://www2.wsls.com/sls/news/state_regional/govtpolitics/article/virginia_green_party_candidates_back_high-speed_rail/116803/

and the Fredericksburg Freelance Star,
http://fredericksburg.com/

Associated Press, and

WDBJ
http://www.wdbj7.com/
did cover the Green Press Conference.

Virginia Green Party candidates back high-speed rail

Posted by: CareyCampbell | August 11, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Third-party candidates for Congress are banding together...elected. Nominees endorsed by the Green Party say their platform would be more popular...program out there." Virginia's Green Party is focusing on rail as its top legislative...

http://www.wdbj7.com/news/wdbj7-green-party-richmond-081010,0,6720343.story

Posted by: CareyCampbell | August 11, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Gates seems like a really good, intelligent man but I think he is under too much pressure from this administration to make cuts. How can you make such a huge cut without a huge risk to the American people. Even Webb, another Demorat, agrees (from Stars and Stripes military newpaper):

“It goes without saying that we should achieve efficiency in our nation’s 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,” U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said in a news release."

http://www.stripes.com/news/is-jfcom-really-expendable-1.114103?localLinksEnabled=false

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | August 12, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Another, more recent article from today where lawmakers say these cuts may be illegal.

http://www.dailypress.com/news/politics/dp-nws-jointforces-politics-20100811,0,7015981.story

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | August 12, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

SusanMarie2, Gates has been advocating the cuts for quite some time even under Bush. he repeatedly stated that the money had to be better utilized given the changing dynamics of the theatres where the US Army is deployed and the type of enemies they are fighting.

This is not an administration thing, but the more politicians are more concerened with the interests of keeping jobs in their districts and states, the less and less the US Armed Forces will be prepared to engage in battle when required.

If at all, the current administration has exempted defense from proposed budget cuts, albeit with smaller increases in funding than in the past. This proposal is coming directly from the Pentagon, and quite frankly, Sec. Gates with his 45 years of experience both at the CIA, National Security Advisor, Air Force and now the Defense Department is much better position to tell us what the defense needs of the country are than any elected official with their own personal agenda of keeping the bacon coming into their districts.

Posted by: vmrg1974 | August 12, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: vmrg1974 | August 12, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

And yeah, even Dick Cheney when he was Sec. of Defense failed in attempts in trying to cut defense programs.

Gates is not the first secretary to try to change military priorities. His predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, sought to retool the military but succeeded in cancelling only one major project, an Army artillery system.

Former vice president Dick Cheney's efforts as defense chief under the first President Bush, meanwhile, are cited as a case study in the resistance of the military, defense industry, and Capitol Hill. Cheney canceled the Marine Corps' troubled V-22 Osprey aircraft not once, but four times, only to see Congress reverse the decision.

"There are so many people employed in the industry and they are spread across the country," William S. Cohen, former Republican senator from Maine who was Defense secretary in the Clinton administration, said in an interview. "Even though members of Congress may say, 'It's great that you are recommending the termination of X, Y, and Z,' they will also say 'that means 4,000 jobs in my state. Frankly, I can't go along with that.'

Posted by: vmrg1974 | August 12, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

mrg1974, that article does not refer to this organization that they are trying to abolish (from what I saw) but refers mostly to weapons cuts (such as the F-22) and other general as of then unknown cuts to defense. But then I have my own version of speed reading so maybe I missed it. And old Army friend of mine told me that what Rumsfield's intent with the base closings was make our military "smaller, more mobile and more lethal" and who wouldn't agree with that but anyone would agree we need to be super careful with our nation's security and that cut seems a little drastic.

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | August 12, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

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