Panetta Notifies Congress DOD Preparing for Furloughs

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has notified Congress that the Defense Department is prepared to implement furloughs for civilian personnel in response to the threat of sequestration.

In a memo to all employees, Panetta vowed to continue working with Congress to avoid sequestration, which would add $470 billion to the $487 billion in defense spending cuts the department already is making over the next 10 years. If Congress cannot agree on an alternative deficit reduction plan, the cuts go into effect March 1.

Panetta and every other defense leader have called the cuts dangerous. They would come on top of cuts imposed by operating under a continuing resolution. For fiscal year 2013, the effect will be further magnified, because the cuts must be done in the final six months of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

“In the event of sequestration, we will do everything we can to be able to continue to perform our core mission of providing for the security of the United States,” Panetta wrote in the memo, “but there is no mistaking that the rigid nature of the cuts forced upon this department, and their scale, will result in a serious erosion of readiness across the force.”

Panetta and DOD leaders long have expressed deep concern about the direct impact sequestration will have on military personnel, civilian employees and families. Flexibility in sequestration is limited, the secretary said in his memo, noting that while military personnel are exempt from direct impact, services on bases will deteriorate, and families may feel the pinch in other ways.

Civilian employees will be furloughed if sequestration is triggered. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said last week that civilian employees could lose 20 percent of their normal income through September.

“I can assure you that, if we have to implement furloughs, all affected employees will be provided at least 30 days’ notice prior to executing a furlough, and your benefits will be protected to the maximum extent possible,” Panetta wrote.

DOD will work to ensure furloughs are executed in a consistent and appropriate manner, the secretary said, and Pentagon officials also will continue work with employee unions.

“Our most important asset at the department is our world-class personnel,” Panetta wrote. “You are fighting every day to keep our country strong and secure, and rest assured that the leaders of this department will continue to fight with you and for you.”



AFRICOM, Combined Federal Campaign Present Check to Garrison (article)

The check, a sum of $18,994, is a collection of donations from U.S. Africa Command staff and will support the garrison communities.

U.S., Southern Africa Strategic Partnership Takes Center Stage during Exercise Southern Accord 14 (article)

For two weeks in July, more than 220 officers and NCO's from 10 countries converged on the Malawi Armed Forces College to share knowledge and exchange ideas at Exercise Southern Accord 14. Led by U.S. Army Africa, the U.S. Africa Command-sponsored exercise included several days of instruction from the U.N. Integrated Training Service and U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute and simulated the deployment of a peacekeeping force in a realistic, challenging scenario.

U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band Builds Ties with Mauritanian Musicians (article)

The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band visited Mauritania for performances and engagements to enhance U.S.-Mauritania relations and build ties with their musical counterparts. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt.j.g. Christopher Cornette/Released)

AFRICOM Escorts African Communications Officers to San Diego (video)

U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton’s Edson Range welcomed a group of 10 senior military officers from various African nations as part of an ongoing military-to-military (M2M) familiarization program sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Aug. 11, 2014.

AFRICOM Update, Episode 19 (video)

This is the AFRICOM Update for the week of 11-15 August, 2014. Stories featured in this update: AFRICOM sponsors African military officer visit at U.S. Marine base in San Diego Preventing and Understanding Ebola 407th CA Team Shares Healthcare Practices with Community of Grand Douda AFRICOM, Combined Federal Campaign Present Check to Garrison