Updated: Obama okays closure of Joint Forces Command
President Barack Obama approved the closure of the Joint Forces Command Thursday night despite repeated requests by Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and the state's congressional delegation to salvage the military installation employing more than 6,000 in Hampton Roads.
In a brief memo from the White House, Obama announced that he accepted U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's plan to shut down the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk and Suffolk. No date was given for the closure.
"The governor is strongly opposed to the decision by Secretary Gates and the President to close JFCOM,'' McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said. "The facility not only employs thousands of Virginians but, most importantly, is crucial to the ability of our armed forces to successfully integrate functions in a time of multiple and constantly evolving global threats. Its unfortunate that the President and secretary would not reconsider."
In November, Virginia officials learned that some functions of the command could remain in the region, particularly the modeling and simulation programs, but the Pentagon has yet to say how many jobs could be saved.
Updated, 8:30 a.m. Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Sen. Mark Warner, said the Pentagon plans to re-tool JFCOM's mission, rename it and trim its size by about one-half.
"Thanks to the strong arguments presented by Senator Warner and others in the bipartisan Virginia delegation, the Pentagon has reconsidered and revamped its original proposal last August to eliminate JFCOM entirely,'' Hall said. "Now, Hampton Roads will keep about 3,000 of the 6,000 jobs associated with JFCOM, and maintain and perhaps even build upon its modeling & simulation functions in the region."
McDonnell and Virginia's congressmen have asked Gates to consider moving other commands to Virginia to compensate for the potential loss of JFCOM. Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) proposed that the Africa Command be moved from Stuttgart, Germany, to Hampton Roads.
McDonnell said the Virginia delegation asked Gates to give "some consideration for economic remuneration" to the state, as would occur if JFCOM were closed under the regular Base Realignment and Closure process.
Gates's recommendations in August 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 is part of move to cut defense spending overall.
| January 6, 2011; 11:00 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell
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