JFCOM closure timeline begins to take shape

Monday - 1/17/2011, 3:41pm EST

By Jared Serbu
Reporter
Federal News Radio

Leaders of the military's soon-to-be dissolved Joint Forces Command are finalizing their plans for its final closure - a process that could be completed within less than a year, JFCOM's commander told reporters at the command's headquarters in Norfolk, Va.

President Obama signed a directive Jan. 6 giving the Defense Department the go-ahead to shut down JFCOM, but left the discretion on the timing of the closure to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

"We hope that the implementation plan will be finished within the next 30 to 45 days and approved so we can begin execution," Army Gen Ray Odierno said, according to a DoD press release.

Once the plan is finished, Odierno said he expected the command to be officially disestablished within nine to ten months, although he said transferring the remaining capabilities that DoD decides to retain to a new command or commands could take up to 15 months. The restructuring will save roughly $400 million per year, he said.

Odierno said JFCOM currently has 77 core functions. Of those, he said DoD would keep all but 24. He did not provide details on which would be retained and which would be eliminated.

A spokesman for Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) told Federal News Radio earlier this month that a brand new, smaller command would inherit JFCOM's remaining functions. A JFCOM spokesman declined to confirm or further elaborate on those plans, saying it would be inappropriate to comment on statements made by the Virginia delegation.

In terms of job losses, Odierno said around half of the command's current workforce would be eliminated. Contractors make up a majority of the command's employees, comprising roughly 2,500 of JFCOM's 4,000 jobs in and around Norfolk.

Odierno said he wanted to finish developing the plans for JFCOM's shutdown as soon as possible so as to give the affected workers as much notice as he can provide.

"Things are tough these days," he said. "And now here I am, responsible for potentially 1,900 people no longer being able to be employed, or whatever the number is here. That's quite a burden."

Odierno is likely to be one of the current JFCOM employees who will be looking for a new position as soon as the command is shut down. Warner's spokesman said DoD plans for the new command include that it be led by a less-senior officer in keeping with Gates' effort to create a "flatter" command structure across DoD. Odierno is a four-star general.

"I've told Ray that his assignment at JFCOM is essentially the same as his assignment in Iraq, and that is to work himself out of a job," Gates said at an August news briefing. "And then I'll find a new -- a new and better one for him."

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.

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