NORFOLK, Va.– At the U.S. military nerve center responsible for coordinating the deployment of troops and equipment downrange, the neurons are likely to fire faster with the addition of a new, state-of-the-art facility.

U.S. Joint Forces Command’s dual-use Joint Deployment and Maritime Operations Centers adds a piece to the military’s force management puzzle that ultimately will make combatant commands more effective, officials said. It also represents another step in an eight-year process of transforming the apparatus for commanding joint forces.

“This new facility and its attendant automation and connectivity will greatly assist Joint Forces Command and the components in further improving its effectiveness and transparency amongst all of these different staffs,” retired Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today. Giambastiani is a former commander of Joint Forces Command who later served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The 49,000-square-foot facility that houses the Joint Forces Command’s Joint Deployment Center and U.S. Fleet Forces Command Maritime Operations Center boasts cutting-edge technology that allows for more efficient collaboration among all the moving parts involved in tracking and deploying U.S. troops and ships.

The center is a marvel of ergonomics, with lighting and acoustics specially designed to reduce anxiety in the high-stress environment. And in the spirit of military jointness, the adjacent Joint Forces Command and the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command crisis response centers housed within the facility are separated only by a single removable wall.

“The important piece is collaboration,” Giambastiani said. “They’re working with all four service components. You’ve got to be able to do this virtually and the collaboration part is really quite impressive.

“The ability to be able to work around the world with the other service components and know the status and be transparent among all of those is incredibly important for them to be able to do their job properly,” he said.

Navy Rear Adm. Gerald R. Beaman, deputy chief of staff for global force management and joint operations at Fleet Forces Command, said the center represents much more than an example of architectural ingenuity.

“What you see in front of you today is a vast improvement over the previous space,” he said. “This is a state-of-the art technological facility in which we are able to direct maritime operations and collaborate with our joint interagency and multinational partners.”

For Giambastiani, today’s keynote speaker, the new center is the culmination of a vision of global U.S. force management that he helped to develop during his Navy career. In 2001, when he worked as a senior military assistant to then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Gambastiani said, Defense Department leaders discussed the need have a single source for conventional forces.

Following the attack of Sept. 11, 2001, and the ensuing war in Afghanistan, department officials decided to create a place for one-stop shopping for conventional forces across the entire armed forces, including National Guard and Reserve components as well as active duty, he said.

Recalling the U.S. invasion of Taliban-led Afghanistan eight years ago this month, Giambastiani said the newly aligned Joint Forces Command received its first request for forces.

“The staff today here, eight years later, is working on request for forces No. 1,060,” he said of the sequential requests. “But what does this mean really, that we’ve gone from 1 to 1,060? To put a face on it, on average, [Joint Forces Command] and its forward service components deploy, get ready, equip and send out for operations 300,000 personnel a year and about 250,000 short tons of equipment a year.”

Further describing the past eight years of transformation, Giambastiani compared the amount of personnel and equipment Joint Forces Command oversees to the moving of an entire city in a year.

“Now that sounds big if it was just a single city. But the fact of the matter is that these folks and the service components are not only doing it at large-unit levels, but they’re doing it at individual levels,” he said, referring to the intense level of management involved in identifying individual troops with specific deployable skills.

Compared to 2001, when the command operated with 60 days in advance of expected needs, it now operates 18 months in advance, he added.

“About 70 percent [of military personnel] are married [and] have families,” he said. “And knowing where you’re going and when you’re coming back [and having] the ability to be able to schedule and think about that, just on a family basis, is incredibly important.”

Giambastiani reiterated the role of collaboration in achieving the goals of force management.

“Successfully accomplishing this task requires very extensive connectivity and collaboration capability amongst all four of the service components, [Joint Forces Command], and also with the other [combatant commands] and the Joint Staff in Washington,” he said.

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