Official: Contractors will bear brunt of personnel cuts at command

Contractors will bear the brunt of personnel cuts when the Defense Department dismantles the U.S. Joint Forces Command this year, Army Gen. Raymond Odierno said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Odierno said 2,000 of the nearly 3,000 positions slated for elimination will be contractor positions. Defense will reduce by about half the total personnel associated with the Joint Forces, he said, restating previously announced figures.

Ending Joint Forces, the command tasked with ensuring interservice cooperation and military training for future operations, would save Defense more than $400 million annually, Odierno added.

The announcement comes a month after President Obama officially authorized the dismantling of the command. Defense Secretary Robert Gates originally announced Defense's plan to close the command in August as part of a broader series of cuts that included a partial hiring freeze and contractor funding reductions.

Most personnel cuts will come from the Norfolk and Suffolk, Va., areas, where Joint Forces is headquartered, but Odierno said Nevada and Florida, where Joint Forces has operations, also will experience job losses. Career services will be provided to those who lose their jobs, he said.

No specific positions have been identified for elimination yet, Odierno said. He expected that process to take place during the next couple of months, and said Joint Forces would be dismantled by the end of August, with all personnel moves completed by March 2012.

A two-star general -- Odierno did not say whom -- will lead a new organization responsible for many of the Joint Forces core missions and will be the deputy director for operational plans and joint force development on the Joint Staff. This person will lead the organization from the Norfolk-Suffolk area.

The new organization will not be merely a trimmed down version of the Joint Forces, Odierno emphasized. "We are taking a major departure from past organizational design, procedure and mind-set to more effectively execute [Joint Forces] core functions and sustain the jointness we have worked so hard to achieve in the past," he said. In addition, the new organization will rely on modeling and simulation to better develop training programs, military concepts and doctrine.

Odierno left open the possibility that the number of contractors working with the new organization could grow in the future, depending on demand. "If we're successful two years from now, you might find that other areas of [Defense] are sending money here for us to work their concepts and development." he said. "We can expand based on relevancy."

He will submit a detailed implementation plan to Gates within the next 30 days, but said he would continue to refine plans as the process unfolds.

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