President Approves Closure of Joint Forces Command

The closure of Joint Force Command, which could begin before the end of the year, will result in the elimination of about 1,900 jobs in southeastern Virginia, Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the activity’s commander, said this week. The announcement follows last week’s decision by President Obama to approve Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ controversial recommendation to disestablish the mission.

The plan outlined by Odierno means that another 1,900 workers will remain in the Hampton Roads region. The command has a total of 5,800 military, civilian and contractor personnel. The mission’s headquarters is at Naval Station Norfolk; the majority of civilians, however, work at the command’s campus in Suffolk, Va.

DOD will retain the command’s core capabilities, including joint training, concept and doctrine development, and allocating forces for contingency missions around the globe, Odierno said. Many of the functions that remain, including modeling and simulation capabilities, will be overseen by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

An implementation plan should be completed by the end of February. Once the plan is approved, efforts to disestablish the mission could take up to 15 months, the commander said. A plan for using the command’s buildings and real estate has not yet been finished.

Gates’ proposal to close the command has been fervently opposed by elected officials from Virginia since he announced it in August. After the secretary met with Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and the state’s congressional delegation in November and first indicated that the command’s most important functions would be retained in the region, opposition appeared to cool somewhat.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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