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Va. Gov. Has "Productive" Meeting with Defense Sec.

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In Virginia today, at a long-sought meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Gov. Bob McDonnell and several other representatives of the commonwealth, expressed their opposition to the planned closure of Joint Forces Command in Hampton Roaand a proposed reduction to military contractors.

The closed-door meeting in Arlington lasted a little more than an hour. Gov. McDonnell called the tone of meeting civil, direct and, in the end, productive.

"It yielded a four to five point action plan that we all agreed to...so I would call it a successful meeting,: he said.

McDonnell says Gates indicated that some jobs at JFCOM would stay put. He says Gates agreed to allow a state task force sit in on discussions about how the closure of the Hampton Roads base would be implemented and to the creation of a work group including Virginia lawmakers. The legislators would be involved in discussions about cutbacks to military contracting.

Sen. Mark Warner says the most important part was setting up a framework for dialogue where, up until now, there was none.

"We've got their attention," he said. "This was a productive meeting, and most important is we've got a series of specific steps -- outgrowth from that."

But Virginia's delegation, which also included Congressmen Gerry Connolly, Jim Moran, and Frank Wolf, did not hear Gates back down from his goals to implement major military spending cuts. Congressman Randy Forbes expressed disappointment with the Secretary's approach.

Secretary Gates has said he will finalize his streamlining plans by the end of the year.

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