JFCOM hopes high

Published 10:07 pm Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Suffolk leaders agree the city’s chances of keeping U.S. Joint Forces Command within its borders are looking better.

“The growing support we’re getting from outside of the state is very helpful,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said Wednesday. She added it is “heartwarming” to watch legislators from both sides of the aisle and all areas of the country come together on the issue.

The command, headquartered in Norfolk with a 2,200-employee facility in Suffolk, was tapped for closure in cost-cutting recommendations released in August by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Elected officials from the local level to Congress have blasted the plan, saying it was announced with no analysis of its effects, no public input and little transparency.

Johnson, along with City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn, Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes and Chief of Staff Sherry Hunt, visited Capitol Hill last week to attend House and Senate Armed Services Committee meetings on Gates’ recommendations.

“I think we left feeling better than we came,” Johnson said Wednesday. The Suffolk leaders also met with Gov. Bob McDonnell and Virginia representatives in Congress.

An analysis of the closure’s effects and plan to “disestablish” JFCOM are expected from Defense Department officials in late fall. In the meantime, Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-VA-04) has announced he will seek a subpoena to force Gates’ testimony in front of the House Armed Services Committee if Gates does not agree to explain his plan.

Also, Senator Jim Webb has filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require the defense secretary to provide a detailed analysis and assessment before the president could disestablish, close or realign any unified combatant command.