Lawmaker seeks hearing over proposed Joint Forces Command closing

Congressional pressure continues to build over Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ plan to close the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFC), headquartered in Norfolk, Va., which employs about 6,000.

In a letter dated Aug. 13 to the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) called for a full committee hearing on the Defense Department's new efficiency program, including the proposed closing of the JFC. Gates last week announced a series of cost-saving measures that included moves to reduce spending on bureaucracy and administration.

Webb called the abrupt pace of the JFC closing “deeply troubling” and asked for a hearing to look into the “broad scope, legal implications, and potentially far-reaching impacts,” of the cost-saving measures. Webb is a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, chaired by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).


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“Beyond its potential impact on joint war-fighting and interoperability, we question the legal basis for the secretary’s action and the analytical rigor reflected in the Defense Business Board’s recommendation,” Webb’s letter said. “DOD has not responded to a request to provide our offices with the legal opinion its general counsel made to support the secretary’s recommendation.”

Webb also was one of six Virginia lawmakers who sent Gates a letter last week that questioned the viability of closing the command amid the military’s increased emphasis on joint operations, and challenged the secretary’s legal authority to shut down an entire command on short notice.

The Senate is in recess until Sept. 13.

 

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