War on Terrorism

Sunday, January 09, 2011

President Authorizes U.S. Joint Forces Command Closing

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2011 – President Barack Obama issued an official memorandum yesterday authorizing Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to dissolve U.S. Joint Forces Command.

“I hereby accept the recommendations of the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and approve the disestablishment of United States Joint Forces Command, effective on a date to be determined by the secretary of defense,” the memo read in part.

In the document, Obama also directed Gates to notify the Congress on his behalf.

Gates announced in August that he would recommend the command be eliminated and its essential functions assigned to other organizations. During a Pentagon news conference yesterday, Gates said about half of the Norfolk, Va.-based command’s missions would be reassigned to other organizations but should be retained in the Norfolk-Suffolk area of Virginia.

Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno commands Joint Forces Command, which is responsible for the military’s joint training, doctrine and operations. In August, Gates said that with the depth of joint experience now established in the services through experience in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world, the need for such a joint advocate has lessened.

The military no longer requires a “separate four-star combatant command, which, in the case of [Joint Forces Command] entails about 2,800 military and civilian positions and roughly 3,000 contractors of all kinds at an annual cost of at least $240 million to operate,” the secretary said.

In a written statement issued today, Odierno pledged all possible help for the command’s work force.

“We continue to work closely with the Pentagon, the Virginia [congressional] delegation and the governor’s office in our detailed planning effort,” the statement said. “The input and involvement of the Virginia delegation and the governor’s office have been very valuable to me, and we will continue to work together towards a final plan in the near future.

“U.S. Joint Forces Command has an exceptionally skilled and capable work force that will continue to make contributions to the joint warfighter,” the general continued. “We will do everything we can to assist the work force going forward.”

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