Webb to Pentagon: "Talk to Me. Or Else."

Sen. threatens to stall hiring, promotions

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    Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., is threatening to freeze high-level Pentagon promotions and hiring in a dispute over Defense Department plans to close the Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), based in the Norfolk area.

    Almost 6,000 military personnel and civilian contractors are employed at JFCOM. Constituents, in other words.
     
    Webb, a Democrat, has complained he spent weeks asking the Pentagon about the closing and has not gotten any substantive answers. The Senate must approve top DoD civilian and military promotions, so Webb wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday, saying he would impose a Senate "hold," or freeze, on new nominations until he gets the information.
     
    He may be getting somewhere. The Defense Department will work with Webb to ensure nominations stay on track, said Pentagon spokesman Capt. Darryn James.
     
    The closure of the Joint Forces Command is part of a cost-cutting plan Secretary Gates announced August 9. At the time, he said he expected the change to take about a year.
     
    In the meantime, JFCOM is about to welcome what may be its last leader.
     
    U.S. Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno will officially take over during a change-of-command ceremony Friday. Odierno replaces Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, who was shifted to U.S. Central Command in Tampa in August, after President Obama tapped Army Gen. David Petraeus to run the war in Afghanistan.
     
    Prior to leading JFCOM, Gen. Odierno served as Commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. He held that post from September 2008 through September 2010, when most combat troops were withdrawn from Iraq.