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Pentagon axes agencies, thousands of jobs

Rosalind Helderman

Update: 5:46 p.m.: Gates says Pentagon to cut thousands of jobs.

An announcement expected this afternoon from Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the Pentagon will shutter the Joint Forces Command in the Norfolk area, and trim the defense contracting force by 10 percent over the next year could rock the Virginia and Washington regional economy.

The AP reports that Gates will announce the cuts as part of a plan to reduce the Pentagon's budget by billions. JFCOM employs 4,900 people, most of them civilians, who earn a combined $200 million a year. One of the Pentagon's 10 combat commands, JFCOM is charged with training military personnel from the different service branches to work together; it controls 1 million square-feet of office space in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Meanwhile, the Northern Virginia economy has been cushioned during the recession by the vast expansion of civilian defense contracting in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Northern Virginia and the Maryland suburbs could take a big hit from a reduction in civilian contracting.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D) has already released a statement opposing the closure of JFCOM.

"I can see no rational basis for dismantling JFCOM since its sole mission is to look for efficiencies and greater cost-savings by forcing more cooperation among sometimes competing military services. JFCOM also has served an important role as the anchor for Virginia's investments and increasing profile in the modeling and simulation industry. In the business world, you sometimes have to spend money in order to save money. We will work together as a congressional delegation to see what we can do to maintain as many of these JFCOM jobs as possible in southeastern Virginia," he said.

Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has scheduled a bipartisan news conference today with U.S. Reps. Randy Forbes (R), Glenn Nye (D), Bobby Scott (D) and Rob Wittman (R) to discuss the announcement.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 9, 2010; 2:28 PM ET
Categories:  Glenn Nye , Rob Wittman , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Comments

About time. The military is the largest item in the Federal budget, accounting for over 1/4 of all domestic spending. It's the poster child for government waste. It's time to cut spending around such wasteful programs. I'm sure the Republicans and the Tea Party folks will get behind such an attempt to reduce the size of government. Right?

Posted by: Scola | August 9, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Hooray! I'm all for funding the military, but a 10% cut is not going to reduce our overwhelming military capabilities. If the military can cut 10%, so can the rest of the bloated federal government. If the elected representatives cannot find the stomach to cut 10%, they will be replaced by those who can. Enough is enough - we the people and/or the taxpayers need a break!!!!

Posted by: saelij | August 9, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I think the military can save millions on smart bombs by dropping dumb liberals down on the enemy...either the spalt of sink will have them surrender or the fear of one of them liberals surviving will force them to submit.

Posted by: JWx2 | August 9, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

The U.S. military-industrial complex is a veritable rib cage of the national economy. Cutting the defense budget will be fiercely resisted by Congress as well as most state governments.

The other big nuts that need surgery are costs associated with our ever rising medical-pharmacological complex.

My guess is that the nation will do nothing significant on either front until we reach the absolute brink of national bankruptcy.

Posted by: perryneheum | August 9, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

The U.S. military-industrial complex is a veritable rib cage of the national economy. Cutting the defense budget will be fiercely resisted by Congress as well as most state governments.

The other big nuts that need surgery are costs associated with our ever rising medical-pharmacological complex.

My guess is that the nation will do nothing significant on either front until we reach the absolute brink of national bankruptcy.

Posted by: perryneheum | August 9, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for this. The sub-contractors have become fat cats on our backs. Hire the people you need as federal employees. I could not believe what my nephew is making with little skills and only a clearance.

Posted by: agwilson1399 | August 9, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Virginia will no longer be a swing state.

Posted by: HughJassPhD | August 9, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

This is an excellent start, and long overdue. Now please weed out all the superfluous Beltway Bandit defense contractors in NoVA, and relocate the rest of them to the newly vacant space in Norfolk. The monstrosity at Mark Center was a huge mistake. Cut your losses and tear it down.

Posted by: nan_lynn | August 9, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

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