The four-star military command known as JFCOM is officially no more.
On Thursday, a year after then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recommended the closing of the Hampton Roads-based U.S. Joint Forces Command, the colors were rolled up, the commemorative plaque unveiled and the 12-year-old combatant command dissolved.
The command was set up to coordinate training and military doctrine among the branches of the armed services. But in tough fiscal times, and with the spirit of “jointness” far more inculcated in the services than it was a decade ago, Gates decided the command’s functions no longer justified an annual budget of nearly $1 billion.
While the Pentagon said it would assign some of the command’s functions to other combatant commands and individual services, t he decision drew howls from Virginia officials, who warned about the loss of jobs in and around Norfolk and the economic impact in the region. A year later, it appears the closure of JFCOM has proven painful but not devastating.
Of the command’s roughly 6,000 personnel, about half were contractors. Those contractors have taken the biggest hit in the cuts, but some — along with hundreds of the troops at JFCOM — will retain their jobs under different leadership.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a ceremony in Suffolk on Thursday that the closure is “in the nation’s best interest.”
He also lauded the command’s accomplishments in facilitating collaboration among the services, saying such collaboration has become critical to their success. As an example, he cited the U.S. military’s ability to quickly implement a no-fly zone in Libya.
“The world,” Mullen said, “has become so flat so fast, and so interconnected, we can no longer draw neat lines between the sea and the shore, the horizon and the sky.”
The command’s top officer, Gen. Ray Odierno, has been nominated as Army chief of staff.