Webb seeks freeze on cost-cutting move of closing Joint Forces Command

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) is trying to force the Pentagon to fully explain its decision to close its Joint Forces Command as part of a cost-cutting drive before the plan moves ahead.

Webb plans to offer legislation during the Senate’s deliberations of the massive defense policy bill next week that would require Defense Secretary Robert Gates to provide full justification to Congress before any action is taken to close the Joint Forces Command.

ADVERTISEMENT
Webb and the Virginia delegation have been up in arms since Gates announced in August that he plans to shutter the Norfolk-based facility, which employs more than 5,000 people. Lawmakers have been pressing the Obama administration to provide rationale for the move.

Webb, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee panel on military personnel matters, said the information lawmakers have received so far is not satisfactory. 

“A decision of this magnitude poses significant implications for joint training and the development of joint war-fighting capabilities that are essential for successful 21st-century combat operations,” Webb said in a statement on Wednesday. “Any proposal to close or realign the command should be guided by a clear process and analytical basis that everyone can understand.”

JFCOM is one of 10 combat commands, which include Central Command, European Command and Africa Command. JFCOM was previously the U.S. Atlantic Command. After the Soviet submarine threat diminished at the end of the Cold War, the command in 1999 was turned into a training, concepts and experimentation combatant command that spans all armed services.

Webb, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Virginia Reps. Glenn Nye (D), Bobby Scott (D), Rob Wittman (R) and Randy Forbes (R) have urged Gates to conduct a review of JFCOM’s mission and activities without a predisposed intent to close the command.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has agreed at Webb’s request to hold a hearing on the Pentagon’s savings drive, including the closure of JFCOM.