Unpaid leave for US department civilians

2013-05-15 12:00
US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel. (File, AFP)

US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Most of the Defence Department's 800 000 civilian employees will be placed on unpaid leave for 11 days as the US military scrambles to comply with budget-cutting targets by the end of September, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Tuesday.

Hagel, acknowledging the deep unpopularity of his decision, said he decided to move ahead with civilian furloughs only after every other option to meet the congressionally mandated cuts had been exhausted, short of jeopardising national security.

The furloughs will begin on 8 July, with roughly one day of unpaid leave per week for more than 600 000 affected defence department employees.

"Difficult choice. But we had to make it," Hagel told an audience of Pentagon employees.

"And I tried everything, we did everything we could, not to get to this day this way."

The furlough period is shorter than the earlier estimates of 14 days issued in March and 22 days in February. But many civilians had hoped Hagel would find other ways to cut the budget or allow individual branches of the military to shield the civilian employees.

Cuts likely to deepen

Hagel said less than one fifth of civilians paid with appropriated funds would be exempted. Those include employees stationed in combat zones and medical personnel.

Employees in Navy shipyards are also being exempted because of fear their absence would delay maintenance of nuclear ships, according to an attachment to a memo by Hagel to Pentagon leaders released to reporters.

"No one service, no one's going to be protected more than anybody else," Hagel said.

Defence spending has taken the single biggest hit from automatic US spending cuts, known in Washington as the "sequester". Hagel said the Pentagon was currently $30bn short in accounts used to pay most civilian employees for this fiscal year, which ends on 30 September.

The cuts - which were included in a 2011 law aimed at reducing the federal government's wide deficits - will deepen in the coming years unless Congress acts to reverse them.

Indeed, Hagel offered faint hope to Pentagon employees that the situation will be any better during the next fiscal year, which begins on 1 October.

Military readiness in jeopardy

"I can't guarantee you that we're not going to be in some kind of a similar situation next year," Hagel said.

US military leaders have warned Congress that the cuts will erode military readiness to respond in the future to global tensions including the civil war in Syria and Iran's nuclear advances at the same time that the United States winds down the 11-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Hagel noted steps the Pentagon has already taken, saying in his memo that the Air Force is reducing flying and the Navy and Marine Corps are cutting back on training and deployments, including a decision to reduce the presence of aircraft carriers in the Gulf.

"Even after taking all these actions, we are still short of needed operating funds," Hagel said in his memo.

Last month, Hagel said in a major policy speech that he had ordered a review that could still lead to additional belt-tightening measures such as reducing the number of generals, paring back the civilian workforce and moving to stem spiralling costs of new weapons.

The Pentagon is also urging Congress to move forward with a new round of military base closures. Closing domestic military bases is deeply unpopular with lawmakers due to the damage such cutbacks can cause to local economies.

Read more on:    chuck hagel  |  barack obama  |  us  |  us shutdown  |  us economy
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

DA ad scores nearly half a millions hits on YouTube

The DA's "Ayisafani" (It's not the same) election TV advert - originally pulled off the air by the SABC - has garnered nearly half a million views on YouTube.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Newlands - 12:32 PM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    DELAYS between Wynberg Hill and UCT due to 2 Oceans Marathon
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 has a beautiful one-piece, unibody design where...

From R2899.85

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.