Webb receives defense data

Published 10:20 pm Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sen. Jim Webb reported Thursday he had received data he requested three months ago related to the proposal to close down U.S. Joint Forces Command.

After requesting the numbers in August, Webb finally received them yesterday, he said in a press release. As a result, he released his hold on Senate consideration of Department of Defense civilian, flag and general officer nominations, an ultimatum he issued about three weeks ago.

“More than three months ago, following the recommendation to close the Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), I asked for a series of comparable historical data related to our analysis of all of these commands and the efficiencies which Secretary Gates is attempting to put into the DoD — efficiencies which I fully support,” Webb said. “This basic request should not have taken this amount of time. This 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.”


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Webb added he would examine the data and have follow-up questions.

In August, Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposed closing JFCOM as part of cost-cutting initiatives in the defense department. JFCOM, which is responsible for developing and researching ways to help the nation’s military branches communicate better with one another, employs about 2,200 people at a massive facility in North Suffolk.

The state’s legislative delegation has been fighting the plan since it was first announced.

Also Thursday, at a confirmation hearing for Gen. Carter F. Ham to be commander of U.S. Africa Command, Webb recommended the headquarters for that command to be relocated to Norfolk from Stuttgart, Germany. Ham said he would conduct an assessment of alternative locations for the headquarters, including sites in Europe, Africa and the United States.

“A very good case can be made to reduce the size of our military’s footprint in Europe for strategic and economic reasons,” Webb said following the hearing. “Norfolk and its adjoining communities have first-class facilities to accommodate AFRICOM’s mission — much like Tampa, Fla., is home to the U.S. Central Command’s headquarters. This relocation of the nearly 1,500 military and civilian personnel now assigned at AFRICOM’s headquarters in Germany would also save billions of dollars in the long term, an important consideration as Secretary of Defense Gates seeks ways to generate savings in the defense budget through his comprehensive efficiency initiatives.”