Lynn: ‘Jointness’ Will Continue After Command Closes
By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2010 U.S. Joint Forces Command has achieved much of its intended purpose and closing it would not degrade joint training, doctrine and operations going forward, Defense Department leaders told Congress members today.
The military’s combatant commands and services operate “fundamentally differently” today than before Joint Forces Command officially was established in 1999, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III told the House Armed Service Committee. The culture of ‘jointness’ is so ingrained that it will continue beyond closing the command, he said.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has proposed the closure of Joint Forces Command as part of an initiative to make the department operate more efficiently and redirect those savings to warfighters. He has directed the services to identify $100 billion in savings over five years to invest in high-priority needs.
Lynn, who was joined by Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics, and Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the initiative is necessary to sustain the department’s 2 to 3 percent annual budget growth needs during a time when the federal budget can only support 1 percent annual growth.
Closing Joint Forces Command, which is based in Norfolk, Va., is opposed by some elected officials. In addressing their concerns before the committee, Lynn said, “The challenge here is that everyone supports the efficiencies in general, …but if we don’t make these tough decisions, we will not get to $100 billion.”
Lynn, who’d also held other senior DOD positions from 1993-2001, said that since the department is “in a different place” today in the ability for the services to operate jointly, then, “we think it is possible to eliminate this four-star, billion-dollar headquarters, and retain jointness.”
”Jointness will continue to be a strong part of the department,” Lynn added, with leadership coming from the Joint Staff, combatant commands, and services.
Gates’ decision to close Joint Forces Command was based on more than 30 meetings with senior military leaders, Lynn said.
“It was military rationale that caused the secretary to recommend the closure of Jfcom, not a business case,” he said, adding that the command tripled in size in the past decade with no change in mission.
Defense officials now are considering which of the command’s centers and functions will be retained, and where, Lynn said.
Cartwright also defended the decision to close Joint Forces Command, saying it was established to “get more horsepower” behind having the services and combatant commands operate jointly.
“I’m not saying the journey to jointness is done,” Cartwright said. “But the hard work we put into building those training ranges and simulations has -- by and large -- been accomplished. The question now is how to sustain it. Somebody has to be accountable for that activity, and we’re working on that.”