Most JFCOM layoffs will be contractors

Wednesday - 2/9/2011, 7:01pm EST

Jared Serbu, Reporter, Federal News Radio

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By Jared Serbu
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The vast majority of the positions that will be eliminated when the military's Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) is shut down will be in the contracted workforce, Gen. Raymond Odierno confirmed Wednesday.

Odierno, JFCOM's commander said about 2,400 of the organization's 4,700 current jobs will be preserved and either transitioned into a newly-created command or moved into the individual armed services. Of the 2,300 jobs the military will cut, approximately 2,000 belong to contractors, he said.

Secretary Robert Gates announced the Defense Department's intent to "disestablish" JFCOM last August as part of DoD's efficiencies initiative. He said at the time that the military services had embraced jointness and that building and reinforcing those doctrines no longer required a separate four-star command.

Odierno echoed that sentiment Wednesday, and said the new, yet-to-be-named command would be led by a two-star officer who will report directly to the Pentagon's Joint Staff. He said the changes would save DoD around $400 million.

"I think the conclusion that's been made is that you don't need a four-star command to do these things anymore," he said in a media briefing at JFCOM headquarters in Norfolk, Va. "These things are still critical, but we certainly can do them in a more efficient, effective way. And I agree with that. I think with a good two-star organization working directly for the Joint Staff, frankly you eliminate some of the redundancy that's there and I think it might become more efficient in the long run."

Odierno said Gates had signed a memo Wednesday instructing him to develop a detailed plan to execute JFCOM's closure. He said he expected that plan to be finished within the next 30 to 60 days, and that it would include more precise descriptions of the functions and personnel that would be kept in the new organization. He expected to complete all of the personnel moves by March 2012, he said.

He said the new command would represent a major departure from JFCOM's organizational design, procedure and mindset.

"We are not simply trimming down each staff element," he said. "These changes are significant."

Odierno said JFCOM's successor would focus on joint training, joint integration and joint concept and doctrine development, supported by the modeling, simulation and experimentation functions that the command performs now.

"We will retain the most critical functions and expertise for the joint warfighter in an organization flattened for agility and efficiency, he said. "We will ensure we sustain the momentum and gains in jointness, while maintaining critical interaction with NATO - specifically Allied Command Transformation-and other multinational partners.

Odierno said he was committed to helping displaced employees transition to new jobs as easily as possible. He said DoD had given the Commonwealth of Virginia $470,000 to assist with career placement programs. But he strongly suggested that the new command's much smaller contractor community won't necessarily be set in stone forever.

"The way it's going to work is if we're successful building this organization, I believe there will be others who will want to invest in this organization," he said. "So you might find if we're successful two years from now that other areas of DoD are sending money here for us to work their concepts, which would then potentially grow the contract force again, based on demand. Today's it's kind of supply-based. In the future it'll be demand based, where if people think it's relevant they'll provide the money."

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