Defense civilian employees face 11 days of furlough

Faced with $37 billion in sequester cuts for fiscal year 2013, the Department of Defense will furlough its civilian employees for 11 days from July through September.

Nearly all civilian employees – with the limited exception of those deployed to combat zones – will have to take one furlough day per week for 11 weeks starting on July 8th.

(The 11-day furlough is half of maximum 22-days furlough that the Department of Defense may impose on civilian employees in a given year.)

“All of our civilian employees are important, and I would prefer not to furlough any of them,” wrote Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in a memo dated May 14th. “I understand that the decision to impose furloughs imposes financial burdens on our valued employees, harms overall morale, and corrodes the long-term ability of the Department to carry out the national defense mission.”

Hagel wrote that the furloughs are needed to bridge the budget gap widened by sequestration – or the across-the-board cuts to defense and non-defense discretionary spending that went into effect on March 1.

Without the furloughs, or temporary unpaid leaves, the Department of Defense will be forced to impose even steeper cuts to training and maintenance, which would jeopardize the readiness and ability of U.S. troops to respond to unforeseen emergencies.

“This is an unpleasant set of choices, but this is the situation we face,” Hagel wrote. “I will continue to urge that our nation’s leaders reach an agreement to reduce the deficit and de-trigger sequestration.”

Hagel also indicated that he would “strongly prefer” to end the furloughs early if the Pentagon’s budget situation improves over the next couple of months.

Civilian employees deployed to the following designated combat zones may be exempt from furloughs:

  • Afghanistan
  • Iraq
  • Pakistan
  • Yemen
  • Jordan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Qatar
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Bahrain
  • Oman
  • Kuwait
  • Somalia
  • Djibouti
  • Uzbekistan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Tajikistan
  • Bosnia
  • Serbia (including Kosovo)
  • Croatia
  • Herzegovina
  • Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Albania
  • Philippines (assigned to Operation Enduring Freedom)
  • Persian Gulf
  • Gulf of Oman
  • Gulf of Aden
  • Adriatic Sea
  • Red Sea
  • Ionian Sea north of the 39th Parallel

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