Grant funds JFCOM transitions

Published 9:33 pm Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Suffolk City Council voted to accept more than $300,000 in state funding to support displaced U.S. Joint Forces Command workers with career services.

The money is coming from the Virginia Office of Commonwealth Preparedness in support of the “USJFCOM Transition and Business Development Center.” The $312,124 grant also requires $53,200 in local support, which is already included in the current year’s budget.

In January, President Barack Obama approved the disestablishment of JFCOM as a four-star combatant command. It operates from a number of locations throughout the country, including facilities in Norfolk and Suffolk.

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The shutdown of JFCOM is part of a slate of cost-cutting measures proposed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates last year. The Department of Defense is expected to save more than $400 million per year after shedding about 50 percent of its personnel, mostly contractors.

The grant includes about $145,000 in salaries and benefits; $156,000 in equipment; and about $10,000 in supplies, telecommunications and postal services. The office will be located near JFCOM, officials said last month.

Core missions of JFCOM that will remain in the Hampton Roads area include joint training, joint force provider, joint concept and doctrine development and joint integration.

In Suffolk, the facility on College Drive will decrease from three buildings to one, the former Joint Warfighting Center, which will house the key functions under the Deputy Director Joint Staff J7 for Joint and Coalition Warfare.

According to a timeline released in January by Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of JFCOM, the command will be disestablished by August of this year, and the transition of personnel movements will be completed by March 2012.

Contractors working for JFCOM will fare the worst in the cuts. About 80 percent of contractors will be dismissed, Odierno said. Currently, about 2,500 contractors work for JFCOM throughout all of its locations.

Among military employees, about 300 out of 1,400 will receive orders to go elsewhere.

The last time Odierno publicly discussed the plan, on Feb. 9, no employees had yet been given pink slips. The specific details of who would stay and who will go was still being worked out, he said.

The grant to set up the career counseling services was a concession granted by Gates during a November meeting with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and the state’s congressional delegation.