Report: JFCOM worth a billion

Published 8:59 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The closure of U.S. Joint Forces Command would result in significant income loss in the private sector, according to a report issued this week by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission.

Also this week, Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-04) announced that the three ranking members of the House Armed Services Committee are demanding documents related to the legality of the decision to shutter the command.

In the Tidewater area, employees in professional and technical services earn about $117 million in wages and salary annually, compared with $135 million in the next 14 highest employment sectors combined.

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“The potential closure of JFCOM would pose further risk to those employed in the region’s construction and retail trades,” the report says. Construction and retail are the next two highest sectors, averaging only about $20 million each.

U.S. Joint Forces Command, which is headquartered in Norfolk and has locations on the Peninsula and in Suffolk, employs more than 6,300 at its three locations, including more than 2,200 in Suffolk. Its duties include, among others, training war fighters to work jointly with those from other services and other countries in the field.

Because JFCOM’s impact is heavily concentrated in the professional and technical services industry, the trickle-down effect in the event of its closure will be felt throughout the region, the report states.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Hampton Roads had about 66,040 jobs in the professional and technical services sector in 2008. Roughly 2,600 of those jobs were directly related to JFCOM, the report says.

“JFCOM plays an extremely important role in the regional economy,” said a separate HRPDC report issued last month. In addition to JFCOM’s direct employees, more than 5,000 more jobs are created through “indirect and induced effects.”

The report also stated the presence of JFCOM and NATO’s Allied Command Transformation contributes more than $900 million to the region’s gross regional product — about 1.2 percent — with more than $500 million in contracts awarded on an annual basis.

Forbes’ announcement stated that the committee members’ request for information includes a copy of the Secretary of Defense General Counsel’s legal opinion that concluded the closing of the command does not trigger a Base Realignment and Closure action; a copy of the written recommendation provided by the Director of Cost Assessment and Performance Evaluation with an analysis of the elements of the decision; any documents prepared by the Department of Defense that analyze the extent of savings in the department, and more.

“If the decision to close JFCOM is as deliberate as the Department of Defense claims it was, then there is no reason they should not respond to a request from Congress for information related to the decision,” Forbes said. “This is our second request for this information, and we will continue to ask for it until we are given answers.”