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ODU's Broderick, Sokolowski Among Area Leaders Voicing Opposition to JFCOM Closure

Dozens of local politicians, community leaders and businesspeople gathered Wednesday at Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) to plan strategy to help reverse the impending closure of the Joint Forces Command in Suffolk, a decision that would take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the local economy.

The meeting was chaired by U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake, who suggested it may be possible to go to court to halt the closure, which could begin to happen within 12 months.

The region's three other congressmen also attended the meeting - Bobby Scott, D-Newport News; Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland County; and Glenn Nye, D-Virginia Beach - along with mayors and council members from every area community. They spoke with one voice, condemning the JFCOM closure plans as short-sighted and devastating to the region.

VMASC has supplied vital modeling and simulation research to the U.S. military, particularly JFCOM, since it was created in the mid-1990s.

ODU President John R. Broderick told the gathering that everyone in the room knows the value of modeling and simulation to the region, pegged by economists at $400 million annually. Broderick said modeling and simulation doesn't just involve military subcontracting. It's also research and education, he said, pointing to the 250 students at ODU currently enrolled in modeling, simulation and visualization engineering programs.

"This is incredibly significant for the future of modeling and simulation research, not only to the region, but to the entire United States," Broderick said.

VMASC Executive Director John Sokolowski also spoke to the gathering, urging area leaders to make the case that JFCOM's modeling, simulation and joint training capabilities are critical to national security.

A former naval officer assigned to JFCOM, Sokolowski knows the importance of modeling and simulation to the work the command does.

"It is absolutely critical to the safety of the United States," he said. The cluster of expertise is "not something you'll find anyplace else in the world. That is the true value of JFCOM. It is truly irreplaceable."

This article was posted on: August 19, 2010

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