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Handwritten Gates note offers slim hope on JFCOM

Anita Kumar

In his only letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell about the possible closure of the Joint Forces Command, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates indicated that some elements of the military installation employing more than 6,000 in Hampton Roads could be salvaged.

"I believe some elements of JFCOM will need to be preserved,'' Gates wrote in a handwritten note to McDonnell. "How and where will be part of our analysis and deliberations."

The letter, dated Oct. 1, was released by McDonnell's office late Wednesday. McDonnell has been asking for a meeting with Gates for weeks but has yet to be granted one.

Late Wednesday, both McDonnell (R) and Sen. Mark Warner (D) sent letters to Gates challenging the Defense Department's analysis that led to Gates recommendation to close the facility and asked for meetings to make their case for JFCOM to stay open.

"Since you still have not released any information to support your recommendation, I remain unconvinced that any significant analysis was conducted,'' Warner wrote.

Read Gates's and McDonnell's letter here.

McDonnell and members of Virginia's congressional delegation have vowed to fight Gates's decision to shutter the Joint Forces Command and to slash the Pentagon's military contracting budget by 10 percent a year for the next three years.

They held a breakfast meeting Sept. 28 at the Pentagon with Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn and Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to express concerns about the closure. Gates sent his letter to McDonnell after that meeting, though he did not attend the meeting.

Virginia officials said they have not been told when President Obama or other federal officials would act on Gates's recommendation, but are encouraging them to wait until next year.

In his Oct. 1 letter to McDonnell, Gates said he would not be able to defer changes until next year. "Finally, I understand your request to defer this matter until next year,'' he wrote. "However, the task of moving this massive Department to a different, more suitable budget path is of such urgency that we simply cannot wait."

Earlier this week, Sen. Jim Webb (D) alerted the Department of Defense that he plans to put a hold on all civilian and flag officer nominations until he gets more information about the decision-making process to Gates's recommendation. Warner wrote in his letter that he supports the move.

By Anita Kumar  | October 27, 2010; 6:28 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Mark Warner, Robert F. McDonnell  
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JFCOM was a boondoggle. It was contractor top heavy whose ranks were filled with retired O6 and up... just mo' money, mo' money, mo' money...

Posted by: NancyNaive | October 28, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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