JFCOM could be cut by half

Published 9:08 pm Wednesday, December 15, 2010

JFCOM: The joint warfighting center at U.S. Joint Forces Command in North Suffolk. JFCOM is proposed for closure.

City Council members heard a mixed bag of news on the proposed closure of U.S. Joint Forces Command during their work session on Wednesday.

Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes acknowledged he had heard reports that a workforce reduction of as much as 50 percent at the command begin soon after the new year.

On the other side of that coin, Hughes said, Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) is expected to be named the chairman of the House Readiness Subcommittee in January, which will put him in a good position to affect the proposed closure.


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Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced in August a proposal to shutter the command, which employs roughly 3,900 in Suffolk, Norfolk and other locations throughout the country, including about 2,000 at a facility in North Suffolk.

The command is tasked with promoting joint readiness among the branches of America’s armed forces, as well as between American forces and those of other countries in the field.

The city has developed a “reject, retain, replace” strategy to counter the proposal.

“There are a few different updates as it relates to each one of those categories,” Hughes told City Council Wednesday.

Hughes expressed optimism about Forbes’ upcoming appointment, calling it a “positive step.”

“In his words, he said it would raise the drapes on the Department of Defense,” Hughes said. Forbes has previously said the defense department is attempting to weave a “tapestry of silence” around the JFCOM situation.

Hughes said the city expects to receive more information regarding the reported workforce reduction after Jan. 1.

He also briefly covered a proposal by Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) to relocate the U.S. Africa Command to the area, a move that would bring about 1,300 new personnel to Hampton Roads. That command currently is located in Germany.

The two senators penned a letter to Gates last week that highlighted their reasoning for the effectiveness of bringing U.S. Africa Command to Hampton Roads.

“In our view, relocating the command’s headquarters to Hampton Roads would lessen the concerns often expressed by multiple stakeholders surrounding the command’s current mission and activities in Africa, enable significant cost savings in future years and generate numerous synergies given the presence of other major military commands in the local area and ‘plug-and-play’ infrastructure already in place,” they wrote.

Hughes said the city is continuing to monitor the defense situation.

“Other locations are competing for this command,” Hughes said Wednesday. “We’re still monitoring that and keeping an eye on the latest.”