McDonnell, congressmen to fight defense cuts in Virginia
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and members of Virginia's congressional delegation vowed Thursday to fight Defense Secretary Robert Gates's decision to shutter the Joint Forces Command, a military installation in Hampton Roads, and to slash the Pentagon's military contracting budget by 10 percent a year for the next three years.
"The decision by Secretary Gates...is one that is very shortsightened and is one that has not gone about anywhere near the documentation that would be needed in order to make a colossal change of this kind,'' McDonnell said. "I think the concern most of us have is that this was done in a very hasty way with no demonstrable savings to the United States or to the Department of Defense."
At the first meeting of McDonnell's statewide military commission, members focused on Gates's Aug. 9 decision which McDonnell said could cost Virginia thousands of jobs and have a devastating impact on the economy. The meeting, which took place at the state Capitol, was attended by U.S. Reps. Gerry Connolly, Glenn Nye, Bobby Scott and Randy Forbes and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. Rep. Frank Wolf participated by phone.
The U.S. Department of Defense met Wednesday with representatives of McDonnell's office and the congressional delegation, but Virginia officials left frustrated after hearing Gates made a "philosophical" decision to close the Joint Forces Command as opposed to one based on data.
"I was, like my colleagues, stunned to learn...that the Pentagon pretty much conceded that there was no analysis that went into this,'' Connolly said. "We plucked these decisions and we plucked these numbers out of a hat like a rabbit."
Updated: "The Secretary's decisions regarding these efficiencies initiatives were based on compelling advice and analysis from senior officials within DoD, which showed that savings could be achieved through eliminating redundancies in overhead," Kathleen Kesler, a defense department spokeswoman.
Defense officials did not provide any documentation to justify the reasons for the closing for the Joint Forces Command or for cutting the contracting budget, the congressman said.
"The briefing they had was absolutely nothing. They told us they had no analysis going in," Forbes said. 'If you don't know before you make the decision what the savings are, it is just appalling you would do something like this."
McDonnell and the congressmen said they have not been told when President Obama or other federal officials would act on Gates's recommendation. McDonnell has written to Obama and Scott said he spoke to him recently in New Orleans but neither have received a response.
The Senate Committee on Armed Services will hold a hearing on the cuts but it has not been scheduled. A subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been set for Sept. 29.
September 9, 2010; 12:28 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Bill Bolling , Frank R. Wolf , Gerald E. Connolly , Glenn Nye , Robert F. McDonnell , Thomas M. Davis III
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