Since August 8, when Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recommended the closure of U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce has been focused and engaged on this issue and its potential impact on the business community. The Chamber’s staff and volunteers are working with our local, state, and federal leaders on a daily basis to reverse the proposed command closure. Read more about Gates’ announcement.
On Wednesday, August 18, Congressman Randy Forbes (R-04) chaired the first Roundtable Discussion in the region on the proposed closure. The Chamber’s Municipal Affairs Director Dean McClain represented the Chamber at the bipartisan gathering of Congressional representatives which included Congressman Bobby Scott (D-03), Congressman Rob Wittman (R-01), Congressman Glenn Nye (D-02), and representatives for U.S. Senators Webb and Warner, along with the region’s Mayors, Chairs of Boards of Supervisors, General Assembly delegation and Terrie Suit, Assistant to Gov. Bob McDonnell for Commonwealth Preparedness. The meeting, held at ODU’s Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center near JFCOM’s facility in Suffolk, demonstrated the region’s unity to save this vital military asset.
The Congressional delegation noted that they have serious legal and procedural concerns with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ recommendation to shut down the command without following the Base Realignment and Closure ( BRAC) Statute or the associated oversight powers of Congress. Congressman Scott has concerns that the Secretary of Defense could not provide a proper analysis of the cost/benefit for the proposed closing. Congressman Wittman said it appears that the proposal was made "unilaterally" without providing Congress the opportunity to provide input on the "strategic" needs of the military. These factors have given Congressmen Nye the opportunity to work with the House Armed Services Committee to arrange for a hearing this fall because the BRAC process has not been followed. Ms. Suit noted that Gov. McDonnell has sent several official and personal letters to President Obama and Secretary Gates requesting a meeting to discuss the facts and lack of transparency.
At the conclusion of Wednesday’s meeting, elected and appointed officials pledged to work in a united and bipartisan manner to demonstrate how vital JFCOM is to our military forces and our ability to work with our NATO allies.
Virginia Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner and Congressmen Randy Forbes, Bobby Scott, Rob Wittman and Glenn Nye jointly sent a letter to Secretary Gates on August 13 calling into question the strategic and legal basis for his recommendation to eliminate the U.S. Joint Forces Command.
During Suffolk’s City Council meeting on August 18, a resolution was passed requesting that President Obama reject Secretary Gates’ recommendation to close JFCOM.
The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) has produced a special report on the proposed closing of JFCOM. The HRPDC Board will be provided a presentation on this topic at the September 15, 2010 HRPDC meeting.
The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce will continue to keep its members informed on this issue.