New Navy command coming

Published 10:18 pm Thursday, March 27, 2014

Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson sits between Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and Portsmouth Mayor Kenneth Wright during Thursday’s  Hampton Roads Mayors Forum at Regent University.

Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson sits between Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and Portsmouth Mayor Kenneth Wright during Thursday’s Hampton Roads Mayors Forum at Regent University.

Another technology-related Navy command is coming to North Suffolk, Mayor Linda T. Johnson announced during the South Hampton Roads Mayors Forum on Thursday.

The Information Dominance Type Command (TYCOM) will be based at Lake View Technology Park — site of the former U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) — from October, the mayor said.

She had no additional information, including the number of military and civilian personnel involved.

Email newsletter signup

During her speech alongside those of South Hampton Roads’ other four mayors, Johnson argued that the region needs a more positive perception. She swiped at the news media’s reportage on JFCOM’s shuttering in August 2011 and resulting job losses.

“The media outlets sprinted to Suffolk and reported on every negative aspect,” she said, adding that even the impact on pizza deliveries was analyzed.

“It’s impactful and it’s newsworthy,” Johnson admitted, but she noted that most job losses were stemmed by the establishment of Joint and Coalition Warfighting, and 1,600 new personnel came to the site with relocations from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story of Navy Cyber Forces, Naval Network Warfare, Navy Cyber Defense Operations and elements of Fleet Cyber.

“In comparison, that was virtually unreported,” the mayor claimed. “We need to market what we have, and do a better job of being proud of who we are.”

As reported by the Navy News Service, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert directed the establishment of the new command earlier this month. The new command will report directly to the Norfolk-based U.S. Fleet Forces.

Rear Adm. Diane Webber, Navy Cyber Forces Commander, will be re-designated commander of Navy Information Dominance Forces.

Webber reportedly described the new command’s mission as “support(ing) combatant commanders and Navy commanders ashore and afloat by providing forward deployable, sustainable, combat-ready information dominance forces.”

According to reported remarks by Vice Adm. Ted N. Branch, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance, “The continuing evolution of Information Dominance as a Navy warfighting discipline demands a single, integrated TYCOM to provide relevant and effective capabilities, including a highly trained and motivated workforce.”

Mayor Johnson told the forum audience: “Hampton Roads is and should be proud at the work being accomplished at the federal facilities in our communities. This globally-critical work” often goes unrecognized.

Also discussed by the South Hampton Roads mayors were possible moves by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission and resulting impacts, economic diversification, the likelihood (poor, they said) of casino gaming coming to Hampton Roads, and creating more opportunities for women and minorities.

But the biggest topic was transportation. More precisely, tolls.

Predictably, no speaker claimed to be a fan of them. But, excluding Portsmouth’s Kenneth Wright, who had no mollifying remarks, there appeared to be general consensus that further tolling may be necessary to fulfill transportation needs — despite the region’s windfall from 2013’s landmark transportation funding legislation — but that tight control and careful targeting would be crucial.

“Tolls: flat out, I hate them. But if we must employ them, we must do (so) in a very strategic manner,” Chesapeake Mayor Alan P. Kransnoff said.

On tolls, Johnson said, “We are weighing the immediate pain with the long-term gain.” Congestion pricing — or higher tolls during peak times — should be considered, she added.

“(This) would encourage employers to look at schedule adjustments; perhaps we could do more telecommuting to avoid tolls entirely. … All of this is an experiment … it will take time to work it all out.”

The region cannot afford to let transportation infrastructure crumble into disrepair “or close, like it did in my city,” Johnson said, apparently referencing the former King’s Highway Bridge, whose replacement the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization lists in seventh place priority-wise among eight unfunded bridged and tunnel projects.

Though the region will need to decide how to spend an “unprecedented amount of revenue” for transportation projects, the list is long, Johnson said.

“We sat and planned for years, but we had no money to put to it,” she said. “Now we do. We, along with our state and federal partners, must be diligent at arriving at the best solutions, with the least financial impact on our citizens.”

At the beginning of her speech, Johnson produced a bottle of water, and said: “You can choose to be half empty, or you can choose to be half full.”

Her message was to emphasize the positive. She later added: “I believe that if we spent more time celebrating and promoting … we would create a powerful instrument.”