The Defense Department’s plans to close Joint Forces Command as well as other cost-cutting moves will get a look-see from the Senate Armed Services Committee, according to a Monday letter from the panel’s chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., to Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.
In the letter, which Webb’s office released Tuesday, Levin said he would seek to schedule a hearing after Congress reconvenes in September. While Levin said he shares Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ goals of reducing ‘”duplication, overhead and excess in the defense enterprise,'” his “far-reaching initiatives . . . deserve close scrutiny by our committee.”
Gates announced the JFCOM decision Aug. 9 as part of an efficiency drive aimed at freeing up more than $100 billion over the next five years that could instead be spent on weapons buys and other purposes. Besides shuttering JFCOM, based in Norfolk, Va., Gates wants to close the Business Transformation Agency and reduce spending on service support contractors by 10 percent annually for the next three years.
Unsurprisingly, however, members of the Virginia congressional delegation have rushed to the defense of JFCOM, a major employer in the Norfolk area. In an Aug. 13 letter to Gates, Webb and five other lawmakers questioned his legal authority to dismantle the command and said the decision was apparently based on a Defense Business Board recommendation that “reflects superficial research and a lack of analytical rigor.”
A House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee also plans to hold a hearing, possibly in late September, according to Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va.