Plans for closing Joint Forces Command likely ready next month

Army Gen. Ray Odierno made the announcement on Tuesday. Army Gen. Ray Odierno made the announcement on Tuesday. Defense Department
The Defense Department will finalize its plans for dismantling the Hampton Roads, Va.-based Joint Forces Command before the end of February, Army Gen. Ray Odierno said on Tuesday.

"We are working very closely with [Secretary of Defense Robert Gates] in developing an implementation plan," Odierno, the commander of JFCOM, said in a statement to Government Executive. "We hope that the implementation plan will be finished within the next 30 to 45 days."

The plan is expected to save the military more than $400 million per year, according to Odierno.

In a meeting with reporters in Virginia on Monday, Odierno announced that roughly 1,900 jobs -- or about half the command's workforce in southeast Virginia -- would be cut. It is not yet clear which positions will be retained, though contractors and civilian Defense employees are expected to bear the brunt of the reductions, he said.

"We probably won't be able to take care of 100 percent of the workforce, but we're going to do everything we can to provide assistance and help for them move forward," Odierno said.

Uniformed military officials whose positions are eliminated will be reassigned elsewhere, and workforce assistance will be provided to those civilians and contract workers whose positions are cut, he added.

JFCOM has roughly 5,800 military, Defense civilian personnel and private contract workers with nearly 3,900 employees working in the Virginia towns of Norfolk and Suffolk. The remaining employees are located in Florida and Nevada.

Once the plan is approved, JFCOM could close within nine to 10 months, though implementing all the changes could take up to 15 months, Odierno said.

Gates, in announcing his proposed Defense efficiency plans last week, said a number of JFCOM missions will be retained. He added, "Roughly 50 percent of the capabilities under JFCOM will be kept and assigned to other organizations."

Duplicative functions and those not directly related to JFCOM's mission could be eliminated, Odierno said. The remaining parts of JFCOM are expected to be overseen by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"What we've done," Odierno said, "is attempted to find the core capabilities that should be left behind in Joint Forces Command, which I believe to be joint training, concept development, doctrine development and the role we play in providing forces for all the contingency missions around the world."

The department has not announced plans for the command's buildings or real estate.

Gates first announced plans to close JFCOM in August 2010 as part of a broader array of cost-cutting and efficiency measures. President Obama issued an executive order last week formally approving the closure of the command.

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