USJFCOM closure plans

Published 7:51 pm Monday, October 25, 2010

Senator Jim Webb has issued another ultimatum for the Department of Defense to supply requested information related to the proposal to close U.S. Joint Forces Command.

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Webb said he would place a hold on Department of Defense civilian and general officer nominations until he receives information he requested more than two months ago.

In August, Gates revealed a proposal to dismantle the command, which employs about 2,200 people in a huge facility in North Suffolk and more in Norfolk and other Hampton Roads locations.

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Webb has since requested information on historical staffing levels in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and selected major headquarters and departments. The information has not been forthcoming, he said in the letter.

“To date, I have only received a superficial interim response to these requests, with no indication when a final reply may be expected,” Webb wrote. “The information I requested is not difficult to accumulate, and it is clearly within the congressional prerogative to ask for it. Such data is highly relevant to our ability to reach our own conclusions in the fulfillment of our constitutional responsibility to assess a proposal that has significant ramifications not only in Virginia but throughout the country and also overseas.”

Last month, Webb filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require the Secretary of Defense to provide detailed analysis and other assessments that have been requested before the president could close or realign any unified combatant command, not simply JFCOM.

Also last month, Congressman J. Randy Forbes filed a petition to subpoena Gates’ testimony in front of the House Armed Services Committee on his rationale for the plan. The petition followed two days of testimony on Capitol Hill in which Gates did not participate, instead sending Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn in his place.