The need for a joint force hasn't gone away, but the need for a specific command dedicated to "jointness" has, and the U.S. Joint Forces Command furled its colors today.
The command, established in 1999 to champion getting all branches of the military to work together more closely, cased its colors at a ceremony in Suffolk, Va.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, awarded Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the organization's last commander, with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal for his service in shutting down the command. Odierno will succeed Gen. Martin E. Dempsey -- who will become Joint Chiefs chairman upon Mullen's retirement -- as Army chief of staff.
While the Pentagon said it would assign some of the command’s functions to other combatant commands and individual services, the decision drew howls from Virginia officials, who warned about the loss of jobs in and around Norfolk and the economic impact in the region. A year later, it appears the closure of JFCOM has proven painful but not devastating.
Of the command’s roughly 6,000 personnel, about half were contractors. Those contractors have taken the biggest hit in the cuts, but some - along with hundreds of the troops at JFCOM - will retain their jobs under different leadership.
The command had employed about 5,700 military and civilian personnel in Virginia, Nevada and Florida, with the bulk of those working in southeast Virginia.
About half of those Virginia jobs were eliminated over the past several months. Those who lost their jobs were primarily government contractors.
“We’re not walking away from jointness,” Odierno said. “But rather we’re adapting to a new reality.”
We no longer require a separate four-star command to oversee joint warfighting,” Odierno said during the ceremony. “We have progressed far enough and inculcated jointness deeply enough to realize an efficiency while simultaneously refining our efforts.