Furloughs Will Affect Thousands of Guardsmen

(May 15, 2013) It appears that the majority of uniformed National Guardsmen employed as military technicians nationwide will not escape employee furloughs that are part of the Defense Department’s sequestration plans.

According to a May 14 memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to senior department officials, only a small fraction of the Guard’s 50,000-plus military technicians will be excepted from furloughs.

Those excepted include 75 Army and 1,123 Air Guardsmen who serve in the areas of “alerts, firefighting, personnel recovery and other missions.”

Furloughs are set to begin July 8. All personnel affected will work only four days per week for 11 weeks.

One notable change is the furloughs have been reduced from 14 to 11 days. When the plan was originally floated to the public, the Defense Department said it would furlough employees for 22 days.

There doesn't seem to be any relief from Congress in sight. On March 6, Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-Miss., introduced a bill that would exempt National Guard technicians from the furloughs. The bill has over 30 co-sponsors.

Hagel has put off the furloughs for several months, but he says now that it’s not possible to maintain core competencies unless some positions are furloughed.

"We kept going back. And finally, we got to a point where I could not responsibly go any deeper into cutting or jeopardizing our formations, our readiness and training," he said during a town hall meeting at the Mark Center in Alexandria, Va.