Let's say that each link retrieves data via servlets. If the servlet forwards the response to the same jsp page, there should not be any problem. The jsp page shows links and data grabbed from the request. If there's no data in the request, only links will be shown. If a servlet is called, it retrieves data from the db, puts it in an array (for example), and puts the array in the response. Then the servlet forwards the request back to the jsp. The same jsp shows, but this time data will be displayed, as it has been put into the request.
I suggest that your friend read something about request forwarding.