Subscribe for 17¢ / day

More than 800 civilian Department of Defense workers at the Carlisle Barracks — almost 80 percent of the barracks' total workforce — will be among those who may be furloughed once a week as a part of the DOD’s plan to cut back on costs and meet reductions in its budget.

Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins, spokesperson for the Pentagon, said Wednesday officials presented their plan to Congress that would enable them to furlough certain full-time personnel one day a week for the last 22 weeks of the fiscal year. Nationwide. the Department of Defense furloughs would affect more than 800,000 civilian workers.

The furloughs are the first step in a plan to cover the $500 billion in automatic budget cuts for the Department of Defense that may kick in March 1 should there be no action by Congress or the president. Robbins said the cuts are especially tough on the department given last year’s budget cuts, as a part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which were scheduled to be implemented over the next 10 years.

“We’ve already absorbed $487 billion — it’s the addition of the $500 billion that is really making things difficult,” she said. “We have $1.2 trillion less coming into our coffers.”

Robbins estimates the furloughs could generate $4-5 billion, but that still leaves about tens of billions of dollars to go in reducing costs.

Cuts

Even though furloughs will be a fraction of the money the Department of Defense needs to save, it is enough to cause concern for many area residents.

Col. Bobby Towery, deputy commandant of the U.S. Army War College, sent out a letter to staff at the Carlisle Barracks about what the furloughs mean and how it will affect those in Carlisle.

Towery explained the furloughs will affect full-time employees, except for civilians deployed in combat zones, those involved in safety of life or property, employees funded 100 percent with non-appropriated funds, foreign nationals and employees exempt by law, such as presidential appointees.

That means that 80 percent of the barracks’ workforce — 834 civilian employees — will be affected by the furloughs, should they be instituted. This includes the workforce at the U.S. Army War College, Dunham Army Health Clinic, the Dental Clinic, multiple tenant organizations, Defense Commissary Activity and the U.S. Army Garrison that provides basic services and support, Towery said.

If implemented, the furloughs could result in reduced services at military treatment facilities, at the commissary and with garrison services. Towery said active duty medical care and activities related to life, safety and security will be protected.

The deputy commandant said all workers who could be affected by the furlough will be notified if the furlough plan is implemented.

“Specific processes and notices are required for planned furloughs,” Towery said. “In mid-to-late March, employees must be notified if there is to be a furlough. Additionally, furlough decision letters would be given to employees furlough proposal notices must be given to employees — approximately in late April and no earlier than 30 days after the furlough proposal notice.”

Security

In addition to services cut, Staff Sgt. Matt Jones warned the furloughs could affect the response time from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

Jones is the public affairs specialist for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, which will also be affected by furloughs, though it will not directly affect active guard members.

“In Carlisle, we have 115 traditional National Guard members,” Jones said. “There will be no direct affect on members, but the effect for them will be on their ability to train.”

Jones said furloughs and reduction in costs would cause guard members to spend less on travel and spend more time training locally or on the computer system.

“Our ability to train will be significantly reduced,” he said. “Basically our full-time staff does the training. They’d train, but the quality of that training is not what is required of them.”

Jones said it could affect how quickly the National Guard is able to respond to disasters in the country and abroad.

“It’s not going to make us unable to respond to national disasters, but it will make it significantly harder to do so,” he said.

Robbins added the furloughs will also have an effect on the local economy. The furloughs will cause an estimated loss of 20 percent in an individual’s pay over the 22 weeks.

“It’s going to have a significant effect on the local economy,” she said. “If you or I lose a day in the (work) week, we’d be less prone to eat out or get that new pair of running shoes. We’re expecting about $150 million less entering the economy in Pennsylvania.”

Jones said the furloughs, if approved, would not start immediately.

“Nothing is in effect yet. Even when the sequestration goes into effect March 1, nothing’s going to happen the next day. It will be rolled out gradually. They’ll probably be at the end of April.”

Reductions

While furloughs are just the first step in dealing with budget cuts from the Department of Defense, the area is also preparing for other reductions.

“The furloughs alone will not create adequate cost-cutting,” Towery said. “In addition to furloughs, the Army War College itself is absorbing a $9 million budget cut for the rest of fiscal 2013.”

Towery said budget reduction changes include a hiring freeze, reductions in travel, use of video-teleconferencing instead of guest speakers, cancelation or reduction of conferences and canceled public events, such as the Army Heritage Days, which were recently canceled.

The Pennsylvania Army National Guard faces a $30.81 million reduction under the automatic budget cuts.

Jones said the Pennsylvania Army National Guard has already made cuts over the years, especially when it comes to public events. He explained they’ve all but gotten rid of fly-overs and have cut back on providing colorguards and bands. The reductions also mean little or no maintenance of some of the guard’s facilities across the state, including some that are several decades old and require the work, Jones said.

For Jones, the budget cuts mean reductions in places that cannot afford to see cuts.

“This is really indiscriminate cutting,” he said. “If you had to cut the budget, it should be with a scalpel, not with a butcher knife. With this reduction, we can’t reduce (spending) without affecting our ability to respond to home emergencies or deploy overseas.”

USA Today reported Tuesday the cuts may also mean a $19 million reduction at Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County and as much as $442 million in reduction at Letterkenny Army Depot in Franklin County. Letterkenny forwarded questions to the Pentagon Wednesday.

With ideas still in the process of getting approved and in some cases being made, Towery said all the barracks is doing locally is to make sure they can still do what they need to.

“Prudent local planning for the possibility of a furlough must occur to determine how to balance concern for employees while still meeting our core mission requirements,” he said.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Furloughing full-time civilian personnel will be the start of many more cuts to come for the U.S. Army and area military bases.

Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins, spokesperson for the Pentagon, said Wednesday they have presented a plan to Congress that would enable them to furlough certain full-time personnel one day a week for the last 22 weeks of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.  Additionally, officials say changes will likely take effect in April (not March 1 when the sequestration starts).

The furloughs would generate $4-5 billion. However, the military still has $71 billion to go in reducing costs.

With an estimated 20 percent drop in pay for the affected personnel — which primarily includes civilian staff — the furloughs will affect the local economy and bases like the Carlisle Barracks, Letterkenny Army Depot in in Franklin County and Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County.

The Pennsylvania Army National Guard also expects the furloughs will affect its ability to immediately respond to disasters both in the United States and abroad.

“It’s not going to make us unable to respond to national disasters, but it will make it significantly harder to do so,” said Staff Sgt. Matt Jones, public affairs specialist at the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

Posted Tuesday on Cumberlink:

The Central Pennsylvania region will take a hit from the Army's automatic budget cuts.

USA Today reported Tuesday it obtained Army documents that show the estimated cuts will have a $15 billion economic impact and affect more than 300,000 jobs nationwide.

In a state by state breakdown from USA Today, Pennsylvania — along with Texas and Virginia — is one of the hardest hit states, with millions in reduction to three area depots alone.

According to USA Today, the Army cuts will cause a $9 million reduction at Carlisle Barracks, a $442 million reduction at Letterkenny Army Depot and a $19 million reduction at Fort Indiantown Gap.

Tobyhanna Army Depot in eastern Pennsylvania will see a $309 million reduction, USA Today said.

In Pennsylvania alone, there will be 8,421 defense civilians furloughed — a loss of $50 million in pay — 212 private sector jobs lost from reduced military investments, 79 jobs lost from decreased military construction, 1,570 jobs lost due to decreased depot operations and 132 BOS contractor jobs impacted, USA Today reported.

Dave Brooks, owner of Alibis Eatery and Spirits on North Pitt Street, described the cutbacks as disappointing considering the influx of customers from the U.S. Army War College and Carlisle Barracks.

“We certainly have a good patronage from the folks at the War College,” he said. “They are certainly not the major component of our clientele, but a critical percentage.”

Brooks said his restaurant often doubles as an “off-site” for classes at the college during the fall in hopes of attracting new students as regular customers.

“We call it our recruitment time,” he said.

But Brooks doesn’t worry about the automatic budget cuts eating into his profits.

“I’m sure it will have some impact,” he said. “But I don’t think it will affect what we do here.”

There will be a $30.81 million reduction for the Pennsylvania National Guard, and the cuts will affect contractors, including BAE Systems, Boeing, General Dynamics and Medico Industries, USA Today reported.

Federal dollars fund 96 percent of the Pennsylvania National Guard and with a 12-13 percent cut on the horizon, the organization will start notifying employees of lay-offs and furloughs as soon as March 1, according to abc27.

USA Today estimated there will also be a $7 million reduction in base operations, $254 million reduction in acquisition and military industrial base investments, $21 million in project cancellations for military construction and $751 million in reduction to depot operations.

Overall, it could mean a $1.1 billion economic loss with 10,414 jobs affected, USA Today reported.

Currently in the state, USA Today said there are 4,772 full-time military personnel, 23,943 in the guard or reserve and 15,378 full-time civilians.

“It’s dangerous that the president and his cronies in Washington can’t get their act together to cut the bloated welfare programs that are drowning us in debt,” said state House Representative Stephen Bloom, R-199. “And instead, they are choosing to cut our nation’s military to the bone, risking our national security and the safety of our brave soldiers. I am appalled by the president’s shortsighted actions and I will continue working with our local U.S. congressional delegation in the fight for long overdue entitlement spending cuts that don’t gut our military readiness.”

USA Today said the military faces $500 billion in budget cuts over 10 years from sequestration, or automatic budget cuts, which means an estimated cut of $18 billion in spending by the end of the fiscal year.

USA Today reported the cuts will affect every Army installation.

Comparatively across the country, Texas will be the hardest hit with 34,734 jobs affected and $2.4 billion in reductions. Virginia may see cuts affecting 25,360 jobs and $1 billion in reduction, while Alabama will have 25,177 jobs affected and see a reduction of $1.87 billion, according to USA Today.

The newspaper also reported sequestration will lower funding caps for the Department of Defense between fiscal years 2014-2021, which will dramatically cut personnel, modernization and readiness funding in future years.

For fiscal year 2013, the Army will reduce the contracted workforce, terminate temporary employees and not extend term employees, implement a hiring freeze, divert all facilities restoration and modernization funds, cancel third and fourth quarter Depot Maintenance inductions, reduce base operations support levels and cancel collective and individual training, USA Today said.

USA Today said the Army estimates the cumulative economic impact to be $15.35 billion and affect 302,626 jobs.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

USA Today reported Tuesday that Pennsylvania is one of three hardest hit states in the U.S. Army's budget cuts scheduled to take effect March 1.

The newspaper reported it obtained documents from the Army, which estimates its cuts will have a $15 billion economic impact and affect more than 300,000 jobs nationwide.

Among those affected are Pennsylvania, including the Carlisle Barracks, Letterkenny Army Depot and Fort Indiantown Gap.

According to USA Today, the Army cuts will cause a $9 million reduction at Carlisle Barracks, a $442 million reduction at Letterkenny Army Depot and a $19 million reduction at Fort Indiantown Gap.

In Pennsylvania alone, there will be 8,421 defense civilians furloughed – a loss of $50 million in pay – 212 private sector jobs lost from reduced military investments, 79 jobs lost from decreased military construction, 1,570 jogs lost due to decreased depot operations and 132 BOS contractor jobs impacted, USA Today reported.

For more on this story, check back to Cumberlink and check out The Sentinel's print edition on Wednesday.

0
0
0
0
0