At Capstone Corp. in Virginia Beach, 110 of the firm's nearly 140 local employees could be out of a job if the command shuts down within the next 12 months, as expected.
General Dynamics Corp. has about 290 local employees who support the command.
And several of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.'s 800 local employees work on JFCOM contracts.
The list goes on.
Of the 5,647 military personnel, civilians and contract workers Joint Forces Command employs in Hampton Roads, 3,216 — more than half — are contractors.
Those workers, whose average salaries nearly double those of the region's average worker, are engineers, analysts, technical experts, program managers, security workers and administrative assistants.
And they're among the most vulnerable as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates embarks on an effort to dismantle the decade-old command as part of a Defense Department restructuring that aims to cut overhead costs and reduce duplicity.
In addition to closing JFCOM, Gates announced last week that he wants to cut spending on outside contractors by 10 percent in each of the next three years.
Defense analysts and economists predict that roughly half of the contractor jobs at Joint Forces will be eliminated when the command is shuttered, while others will be transferred to other commands or different locations.
"Many will end up working on a different base, many will end up working for a different arm of an employer," said James V. Koch, an economics professor at Old Dominion University. "The real contest now is trying to keep those people and those jobs here in Hampton Roads."
Koch, who for years has warned that the Hampton Roads economy is too reliant on defense spending, expects the region will lose roughly 3,000 total jobs as part of JFCOM's closure, which will make a $500 million annual dent in the gross regional product.
"I'd be a lot more confident if (JFCOM contractors) had been here longer and have stronger roots, but the fact is, this is still an emerging sector here, and a lot of the space they occupy is leased," he said.
BRACING FOR CUTS
While little is yet known about how the command's closure will unfold, some contractors are bracing for massive job losses and others are hoping their work will continue, even if JFCOM does not.
"This absolutely would be a big setback for VMD," Malhotra said of his Vienna-based information technology and services firm that has a contract to provide JFCOM with administrative and security support services through 2013.
"Just like anyone else, our employees are nervous, but we're trying to let them know that until (the JFCOM closing) becomes reality, it's business as usual and to stay focused," he said. "Obviously, we'll do whatever it takes to make other jobs available or find another contract to put them on, but in this economy, it would definitely be a challenge."
Contract employees with larger, more-established firms with a broader array of contracts like Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin Corp., SAIC Inc. and General Dynamics are better positioned than those with smaller firms, some of which may not survive the cuts, said Robert Burton, a federal procurement attorney for Venable LLP.