August 10th, 2010
08:10 AM ET

Gates proposes cutting Joint Forces command from defense budget

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced some far-reaching proposals Monday for restructuring the massive budget at his agency, including getting rid of the U.S. Joint Forces Command. The cuts could mean a loss of thousands of jobs.

The current Defense Department budget totals more than $530 billion a year, and defense officials believe they need increases of 2 to 3 percent a year to sustain the force structure and meet modernization needs.

However, the recession caused the department to propose a 1 percent budget increase for next year, and the cuts announced Monday were intended to help hold down overall costs.

"We must be mindful of the difficult economic and fiscal situation facing our nation," Gates told reporters at the Pentagon. "As a matter of principle and political reality, the Department of Defense cannot expect America's elected representatives to approve budget increases each year unless we are doing a good job, indeed, everything possible to make every dollar count."

Gate's acknowledged the plan was "politically fraught," and congressional criticism began even before Gates was finished announcing the moves. The proposal to eliminate the Joint Forces Command, which is based in Norfolk, Virginia, met with opposition from both the state's U.S. Democratic senators.

Sen. Jim Webb released a statement saying getting rid of it "would be a step backward and could be harmful" to the military, while Sen. Mark Warner said: "I can see no rational basis for dismantling" the Joint Forces Command.

The command, which has an annual budget of $240 million and 2,800 military and civilian employees, is one of the department's 10 "combatant commands." Unlike most of the others, it does not have a particular global
region of responsibility, such as Central Command that is responsible for the Middle East.

The command is made up of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are trained and equipped to work together in response to the needs of other combatant commands. It grew out of the old Atlantic Command and became the Joint Forces Command in 1999.

Gen. James Mattis had been commander until he was recently picked to become Centcom commander. Gen. Raymond Odierno, currently head of U.S. forces in Iraq, has been picked to run the Joint Forces Command.

"I told Ray that his assignment at JFCOM is essentially the same as his assignment in Iraq, and that is working himself out of a job." Gates said. Eliminating the Joint Forces Command is just one of a wide-ranging series of proposals presented by Gates. Others include:

– Eliminating some of the 65 military boards and commissions to cut the budget for them by 25 percent in fiscal year 2011;
– A review of all Defense Department intelligence to eliminate needless duplication;
– Eliminating the Defense Department's Business Transformation Agency, which has day-to-day oversight of acquisition programs that would be handled by others in the department;
– Reducing funding for service support contractors by 10 percent a year for each of the next three years;
– Freezing the number of jobs in the Officer of the Secretary of Defense, the Defense Agencies and Combatant Commands at current levels;
– Seeking to stop "brass creep," a term former Sen. John Glenn used for situations when higher-ranking officers were doing jobs that lower ranking officers could handle. To address that problem, Gates is ordering a freeze on
the number of generals, admirals and senior civilian officials at current levels.

Gates was adamant that the Pentagon must change its way of thinking about money.

"The culture of endless money that has taken hold must be replaced by a culture of savings and restraint," Gates said. "Toward this end, I am directing that any new proposal or initiatives, large or small, be it policy, program or
ceremony, come with a cost estimate. That price tag will help us determine whether what we are gaining or hope to gain is really worth the cost."

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soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. take our country back

    I am tired of these damn liberals thinking the world is a safe happy place. The military is what allows you liberal commies to sleep at night.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Ryan C. Bailey

    I respectfully posit that JFCOM as an experiment in military science has been one of the great achievements that we have gotten right & I will be sorry to see the training resources available to me at JKO & other such palpable force multipliers go to "fiddlers' green". Whilst admiring the willingness to budgetize, I still protest the notion that dollars count in defence. "To be prepared for war is the most effectual means of promoting the peace", in my mind we should err on the side of over-preparedness & cut government expense somewhere else.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Dave D

    I have no doubt of the seriousness of Secretary Gates. I have spent over 25 years of my life in service to our country and have deployed 7 times. There is one thing that is coomon knowledge in the military, but proboaly not so well known to the outside world. There is no incentive to be budget concious. If my annual budget for the year was $200,000.00 to run a maintenance division, then i was literally forced to spend every cent. The mindset is that if i don't spend it this year, then i won't get as much next year. This is ludicrous and must stop. There should incentives in place to save/shift monies if they are not spent. I've spent thousands on dumb stuff i didn't need for the sole purpose of ensuring my nexts year's budget wouldn't be cut. I know i'm not alone on this.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian

      Dave, shame on you. I have 17 years in and have spent a great deal of time maximizing the dollar for my units. IThat goes for ammo, supplies, money, whatever. Being a good steward of tax dollars. If you are so worried about spending all that was given to save you annual budget, you should have shown that you were a better manager and taken less. You even admit to fraud, waste and abuse. So what your are saying is you are part of a problem, not part of a solution.

      August 24, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jsck Kinch(1uncle)

    After Carter and Clinton, a repub prez had to rebuild the defense dept. If 'Sick Willie' had done better, we would have known Hussein had no nukes. If Carter had done better there would no crazies in charge in Iran.

    August 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. gneubeck

    Our military force structure is being slowly but surely denuded to fulfill Obama's pledge: "I will cut tens-of-billions from Defense spending; halt the U.S. military's development of advanced weapons systems; reduce our military to a point that would not be viewed as a threat to our Middle-East adversaries; and, terminate America's ballistic missile defense program." We can only pray that the Obama in-your-face "joyride" on the taxpayer dime and the concurrent American "nightmare" will end with soon to be initiated impeachment proceedings of this most radical left-wing extremist that we unwittingly elevated to the presidency of the United States. Greg Neubeck

    August 24, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Revelations

    So all these new jobe that the messiah promised are not high tech jobs.

    No NASA jobs. We nlw have to hich hike with the Russians to get to the ISS.
    No oil drilling jobs in the gulf.
    No Defense jobs.

    You're doing a great job Barry.

    August 24, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Paul Revere

    How about we dimantle the diversity sensativity commission wing of the military and stop building twice as many showers, bathrooms, bunk areas and locker rooms than are needed on submarines?

    August 24, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mauibucky

    Funny how the right wing drones on about the huge deficit and then whines when attempts to control the spending hit the DOD. I'm sure they would all prefer the cuts be made on the single black welfare queens with 25 kids, but let's face it, they don't get much money anyway. They're poor even after they get the welfare checks. If we are going to trim the budget fat, gotta go to where the fat is. The US Defense budget is larger than the COMBINED defense budgets of Russia, China, Great Brittain, France and Germany. I'm guessing there's an ounce or two of fat hidden in there somewhere.

    August 24, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. racialcoward

    OBAMA GUILTY OF HIGH TREASON.

    The US Military should place Obama and his Marxist Moslem Regime under arrest and send them to the same FEMA camp where Manual Noriagia of Pannama is being kept. The US Military has a very good record for running nations. We cannot risk loosing one Navy Fleet while China expands its navy at 20 percent a year.

    August 24, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. racialcoward

    HOW DO YOU SPELL THE WORD TREASON?

    O-B-A-M-A

    August 24, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. racialcoward

    THE HISTORIC OBAMA

    Obama will be the first US President who will flee and become a Czar in the North Korean Government.

    August 24, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. William Kanz

    If you are going to really do budget cuts you need to look at the internal structure. An example is DCMA, all DCMA, not individual area offices. This organization has gone from a Quality organization with very little top end management to a Management organization with very little Quality. All that they seem to do is make reports, pass them from one end of the building to justify them, have meaningless meetings and they justify their existance this way. They shoud have the service branches take over there own Quality requirements, use the management that they have in place and eliminate all of DCMA.

    February 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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