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Monday, December 31, 2012

How Badly Will Budget Cuts Hurt Troops?

How Badly Will Budget Cuts Hurt Troops?
Dec 31, 2012
Stars and Stripes
by Joyce Tsai

WASHINGTON -- In the final presidential debate, President Barack Obama declared to the American people with unflinching certainty that sequestration “will not happen.”

Two months later, the Jan. 1 deadline is looming, with no debt reduction deal in sight.

Now what?

How quickly and deeply will these automatic defense budget cuts totaling about $500 billion over the next decade hit troops, Defense Department civilians and contractors?

And how much will they hurt?

Many experts agree: “The sky is not going to suddenly fall on Jan. 2,” said Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank. “In fact, we are likely to see hardly any impacts in that first week.”

But in the weeks that follow, the D0D could begin implementing the furlough plan for civilian employees that was announced before Christmas by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

The Defense Department could hit the entire civilian workforce -- about 700,900 full-time employees -- with furloughs. In that instance, offices would not be shuttered.

Furloughs would come in waves and in a rolling manner, so only a handful of civilian employees from each department would stay home without pay each month.
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