Military drives new special moments

Published 8:34 pm Thursday, June 7, 2012

The city of Suffolk’s news Wednesday that four military commands will be moving to North Suffolk is something to celebrate.

With the 2011 disestablishment of U.S. Joint Forces Command and the specter of automatic deep cuts to military spending if federal lawmakers can’t settle their budget differences by January, it’s a much-needed boost, though by no means a panacea.

The future of military bases in Suffolk looks rosier yet when considering the nature of the four commands that are coming.

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All are geared toward the emerging — if not already arrived — military domain of cyber warfare and defense.

We might be more than a few years away from the likes of “Terminator’s” Skynet — and let’s hope future cyber weapons systems don’t misbehave as they did in the movie franchise — but we’re on the road to leaving behind the kind of mechanized warfare that dominated 20th century conflicts.

Proof of the technological bent of the migrating commands is in their names: the Naval Network Warfare Command, NNWC Global Network Operations Center Detachment, Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command and Navy Cyber Forces.

They’re not run by brains floating in glass bowls with wires attached, but by flesh-and-blood men and women, and many of them living in Suffolk.

Added to the 1,100-odd jobs retained at the former JFCOM site by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the almost 1,000 new employees coming with the four commands make the JFCOM shuttering seem less economically devastating than originally feared.

So many human stories lie behind these military jobs, which so often are expressed in numerical terms.

North Suffolk retail stores and restaurants should be emboldened to hire more students this summer, and plans for new businesses might even get off the drawing board.

Military families will be feeling more secure, and the concentric circles of benefit will continue traveling outward from the commands in so many other ways.

As an example of an even more personal moment, a Little League game behind Driver Elementary School was the scene Wednesday of an emotional homecoming for a Suffolk solider.

His wife kept it from the kids that he’d be coming directly from the airport to the game, and the reunion was clearly a special moment in their lives.

It was also a special moment in the life of Suffolk, and as the city’s military ties strengthen, those special moments will continue to multiply.