Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) announced that, this evening, the House of Representatives passed a measure in the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution that would prevent the use of funds to close the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) for the fiscal year to allow Congress the time to study how restructuring JFCOM could impact national security and the ability of the Armed Forces to work jointly.
Congressman Forbes made the following statement:
"Over the past couple years, the Pentagon has refused to provide shipbuilding and aviation plans to Congress as required by law, placed “gag orders” on senior defense officials preventing them from providing information to Congress, refused to send specific witnesses requested by the House Armed Services Committee, failed to meet deadlines for requests for documents related to defense cuts, withheld information from Congress on defense decisions, and failed to supply cost-benefit analysis for its move to shutter one of our nation’s ten military commands.
“That culture of secrecy and defiance ends today. Members of Congress from across the country have made it clear that we will no longer allow the Department of Defense to exercise blatant disregard for Congress’ oversight responsibilities. The amendment sends a clear message to the Department of Defense that we intend to exercise our constitutional oversight role prior to allowing actions that have, up until this point, an unknown effect on the future of our national security.”
Joint Forces Command is one of ten combatant commands in the United States, charged primarily with geographic placement of U.S. forces. The Department of Defense has targeted it for closure but has not provided justification, cost-benefit analysis, or a defined provider of this function in the future. Last year, 37 bipartisan Members of Congress from 22 states signed a letter requesting a subpoena of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to provide information justifying the closure of JFCOM and other defense initiatives.
Forbes’ amendment does not prevent the closure of JFCOM but delays it until Congress can hold hearings on the future of jointness under the realigned command structure. The amendment specifically provides that, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to take any action to effect or implement the disestablishment, closure, or realignment of the United States Joint Forces Command.” The amendment passed by voice vote. The Continuing Resolution, which now includes Forbes’s amendment, will move to the United Senate for consideration upon full passage in the House.
Congressman Forbes is Chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. He has been instrumental in calling attention to a trend of secrecy sweeping the Pentagon and has made it a priority to ensure that defense dollars are being spent based on defense strategy rather than budget pressures.