RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Bob McDonnell and other Virginia officials will meet Tuesday with Defense Secretary Robert Gates to discuss his decision to close the Joint Forces Command in Hampton Roads.
McDonnell's military liaison, Terri L. Suit, said Thursday the governor has accepted an invitation to meet Gates and other Virginia officials. McDonnell has sought a meeting with Gates since his Aug. 9 announcement to close JFCOM, which employs nearly 6,000 civilian and military workers.
The command, which has a $1 billion budget, has been targeted for closing by Gates as part a $100 billion plan to cut defense spending. The command's budget includes elements outside of Virginia.
Gates, who said the money is needed elsewhere, said the command had completed its mission of creating a joint U.S. military force.
The announcement was met with protests in Virginia. McDonnell and members of the congressional delegation have complained that Gates has not fully explained the savings or the reasons for the closing.
Thursday, U.S. Sen. Jim Webb said he has received documents from the Pentagon he had sought three months ago, seeking staffing levels at various military commands. With the documents in hand, Webb said he has ended his threat to block Senate consideration of defense nominations.
Webb said the documents are "highly relevant" to the closing of JFCOM.
"We're going to examine this data. We're going to have follow-up questions," he said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, among the most outspoken critics, doesn't hold out much hope for the Tuesday meeting. He told The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk he doesn't expect Gates to budge on his decision.
The command lists its mission as training troops from all services to work together for specific missions. It also allows U.S. allies to coordinate combat operations and use sophisticated computers to accurately simulate outcomes on battlefields using a variety of combat troops, tactics and weapons.
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