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Unconvinced any significant analysis was conducted” prior to Aug. 9th announcement
Oct 27 2010
“Unconvinced any significant analysis was conducted” prior to Aug. 9th announcement
Oct 27 2010
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner today wrote Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressing disappointment and frustration with the Pentagon’s continued lack of transparency or cooperation on the August 9th decision to close the Virginia-based U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM). Since the Aug. 9 announcement, Senator Warner has worked with congressional colleagues and state, regional, and local leaders to marshal the compelling arguments to maintain JFCOM functions in Hampton Roads, but, as today’s letter makes clear, the Pentagon has not been receptive or responsive.
“It is unprecedented for the Pentagon to issue a recommendation of this significance without providing members of Congress, the Governor, and other state and local leaders a meaningful opportunity to participate in the process,” Senator Warner said. “I remain deeply disappointed in the way this process has been handled so far, and will continue to take whatever steps are available to make sure Virginia is allowed to make its case in a meaningful way.”
The full text of the letter follows:
The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301
Dear Secretary Gates:
Since you first revealed your recommendation to the President to close the U. S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) and reduce service-support contracts as part of a series of initiatives designed to gain efficiencies in the Department of Defense (DoD), we have been troubled by the lack of transparency associated with your actions. While we commend your efforts to reduce overhead and to apply savings to force structure and modernization, the failure to consult more fully with Congress in a transparent way works against the Department’s ultimate goal of becoming more cost-conscious and efficient in providing for our nation’s defense.
I recently received a packet of documents from your office that included various background memos on a variety of topics, many of which had little to do with the questions we asked. There was also little new information provided, and many of our questions remain unanswered. The few answers that were provided were largely incomplete, and none addressed our repeated requests for the memorandums, business case analysis and decision-making criteria that supported the August 9th decision. These pre-August 9th documents are crucially important, because in last month’s USJFCOM Congressional hearings, none of the DoD witnesses could recall the Pentagon making a decision of this magnitude without an analysis being completed first. Since you still have not released any information to support your recommendation, I remain unconvinced that any significant analysis was conducted.
As you are aware, Senator Webb and I have introduced companion legislation to the FY11 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will halt this recommendation until our requests are satisfied. It is important that Congress is afforded the opportunity to thoroughly review all data, analysis, and other documentation supporting the proposal, which we require in order to make critical military funding choices for the Department. Moreover, Senator Webb has made it clear that he will place a “hold” on all civilian and flag/general officer nominations until our requests for information are answered, and I support this action.
I make these requests of you and your office with respect for the difficulty of your position and the day-to-day decisions you must make. I also do not make these requests lightly but with the backing of the broader community that has made Virginia such a significant partner to JFCOM. The fact that the first Commander of JFCOM, Admiral Harold Gehman, strongly opposes the disestablishment of JFCOM, saying: "The original mission of Joint Forces Command is as valid today as when it was created," is, on its own, a cause for serious concern and reason to scrutinize this recommendation.
We urge you to allow Congress the opportunity to review the cost assessments, business case, and recommended courses of action prior to any decisions on JFCOM’s fate. The best way to accomplish this is to have a substantial face-to-face meeting between the Pentagon’s JFCOM Task Force and our team of technical experts, many of whom have spent 30 or more years in military uniform. Moving forward, it is our hope that both the Administration and the Department of Defense will give the Virginia delegation a chance to make our case about why jointness is important to our national security.
Mark R. Warner
United States Senator