Updated: Tuesday, 11 May 2010, 6:18 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 11 May 2010, 4:49 PM EDT
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - More than 6000 defense contractors and military personnel from across the globe are expected to attend the Joint Warfighting Conference in Virginia Beach this week.
While the conference is focused on the needs of combat commanders five years from now, Tuesday's keynote speaker, ADM John Harvey, Jr., Commanding Officer of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, raised more immediate concerns for local efforts to keep the Navy from moving an aircraft carrier from Norfolk to Mayport, Fla.
Last week Defense Secretary Robert Gates questioned the need to maintain 11 carrier strike groups for another thirty years. That caused Virginia's representatives in Washington to question whether the Navy's planned carrier move was as an effective way to spend an increasingly tight defense budget.
Adm. Harvey dismissed those concerns Tuesday.
"We think it is using money wisely," he told WAVY News 10, "and it's not like we're trying to spend a billion dollars all in one year."
Harvey said the Navy's plan calls for a gradual timeline and approach for moving a Norfolk-based carrier.
"So you get up to about 2019 when we plan on having Mayport capable of being another carrier homeport," he said.
Harvey also pointed to the strategic dispersal the Navy enjoys in the Pacific, where carriers are based in Bremerton, San Diego, Pearl Harbor and Yokosuka.
"We have nothing like that on the East Coast," Harvey said. "Is that a wise way to project yourself into this future, in this very uncertain and very violent world?"
The 2010 Joint Warfighting Conference continues at the Virginia Beach Convention Center through Thursday.
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