The Chamber held its third annual Hampton Roads Business Brief on January 21, attracting 120 members of the business community to the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. This year’s program, featuring Congressman Randy Forbes (R-04), focused on the military sector of the area’s economy. Forbes serves on the House Armed Services Committee and is Chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, which oversees military readiness, training, logistics and maintenance issues and programs, military construction, installations and family housing issues, and the BRAC process.
Forbes explained that there have been $180 billion of military cuts. He said, “We’ve had a change in spending. It’s being controlled by budgetary wants and not defense needs.”
Regarding the disestablishment of U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), Forbes said there will be a 50% reduction of civilian employees and a 70-75% reduction of contractors, totaling a loss of 1,945 jobs and a $370 million revenue loss to the region. He wants to change legislation that would require the BRAC process for any JFCOM-like proposal. Forbes said, “We’re going to close the loophole that takes disestablishment out of the BRAC process.”
Forbes said that moving a carrier from here to Mayport, Fla. is a political move, to carry votes in Fla. “The Hampton Roads delegation doesn’t believe it’s a national security issue, it’s a political issue.” Hampton Roads is currently home to five carriers, the same number of carriers along the west coast. The locally-based USS Enterprise will decommission in 2012.
While the U.S. is cutting its defense spending, Forbes explained that China, which has announced double digit increases in military spending, is a military threat to the U.S. China has more ships in its Navy, has developed its own stealth fighter, and has two missile systems directed at our carriers.
Following his comments, Congressman Forbes took questions from the audience.
Thank you to Presenting Sponsor Bank of America.