News / USA

Major US Military Command Closure Causes Concern in Norfolk

Multimedia

Deborah Block

On August 9, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the elimination of a major U.S. combat command as a cost-cutting measure. The Joint Forces Command employs about 6,000 people around the U.S. southern city of Norfolk, Virginia.  People who live in the region are concerned possible job losses will create a downturn in the local economy.

The city of Norfolk, Virginia is home to the largest naval base in the world.  Cities and businesses in the region have grown around that base and other military facilities.  

Jack Hornbeck, who heads the local chamber of commerce, said "It's devastating for our region.  There's no question about that, a lot of impact, a lot of concern."

Vinod Agarwal, an economics professor in Norfolk, says local businesses rely on the military for income. "Forty to 45 percent of this economy is directly or indirectly related to what happens to U.S. Department of Defense, so when the U.S. Department of Defense cuts down its spending, its effects are felt all throughout this economy," he said.

The Pentagon created the Joint Forces Command in 1999 to develop better ways for the various armed forces to work together. But the Pentagon now wants to cut down on the size of the military's  bureaucracy.  Reporters recently got an inside look at the command.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the move to close the command is part of an effort to reduce certain kinds of military spending-- money the Pentagon says could be better spent on fighting war.  Some of its functions, and military and civilian personnel, will be put elsewhere, including at the Pentagon outside of Washington.

There have been military cutbacks in the region before, but nothing as significant as this, and it caught Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim by surprise. "If you break it apart, you are just going to have to do it in different places. Maybe it's going to be more expensive to do some of it in northern Virginia than it is in Norfolk," he said.

Businesses are concerned cutbacks will have a trickle down effect on their profits.  Jim Wofford the manager of a shopping center in Norfolk, said "The average person normally visits our center about two and a half times a month.  So you take six thousand jobs and you multiply that at least by three in a family, you are talking about 18,000 folks that we probably won't see in the shopping center."

Randy Windley, the manager at a restaurant in Norfolk, says job cutbacks will especially affect small businesses. "We'll lose money in profits.  It has an impact on the whole area when you lose six thousand plus people, their families, so it will hurt our business overall," he said.

Secretary Gates says he wants to dismantle the command over the coming year and is promising money for Navy ship building in Virginia which will create jobs.   Virginia politicians are fighting the closure of the Joint Forces Command but may not be able to do anything about it.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs