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Look who's not coming to breakfast: Defense Secretary Gates

Rosalind Helderman

Staff for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) are expressing disappointment that Defense Secretary Robert Gates will not be attending a breakfast meeting Tuesday at the Pentagon to discuss Gates' proposal to close a combat command in the Hampton Roads area.

McDonnell is scheduled to meet with Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn and Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. James E. Cartwright to learn more about why Gates proposed closing the U.S. Joint Forces Command, as part of a broader proposal to cut military costs in coming years. Gates has also proposed slashing military contractors by 10 percent a year for three years, a shift that could rock Northern Virginia.

McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson notes McDonnell requested a meeting with Gates himself and is not pleased that the secretary will not come.

"We've been asking for a meeting with Secretary Gates for some time," Johnson said. "We are disappointed he will not be in attendence."

"But the request still stands," she said.

Also disappointed with Gates: Sen. Jim Webb (D) and Sen. Mark Warner (D). In a joint letter to Gates released late Monday, they say he has "provided no new insights or information" about the analysis that supports the military reductions, which will cost thousands of jobs in the Hampton Roads area.

They write that Gates has shown a "troubling" lack of transparency over his reasoning for proposing the closure.

"We have yet to receive a detailed analysis relating to your closure recommendation despite numerous requests for this information. While we commend your efforts to reduce overhead and to apply savings to force structure and modernization, the failure to consult more fully with Congress in a transparent way works against the Department's ultimate goal of becoming more cost-conscious and efficient in providing for our nation's defense," they write.

In addition to McDonnell's Pentagon meeting Tuesday, the Senate Armed Forces Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the budget reductions at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

By Rosalind Helderman  | September 27, 2010; 5:34 PM ET
Categories:  Mark Warner, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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