Sequestration will force the U.S. Naval Academy to cancel some classes, U.S. News has learned, as the military grapples with smoothing the effects of the across-the-board cuts while also proving they are painful and unnecessary.
An instructor at the Naval Academy, located in Annapolis, Md., contacted U.S. News with instructions from the academy's leadership that civilian teachers would not be able to decide when to take their furloughs. The instructor spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Civilian teachers will be forced to spread the Defense Department's 11 mandatory furlough days over specific series of dates to ensure it will affect all of their responsibilities, instead of only taking off days when they don't have classes, the instructor said. Teachers at the academy spend part of work time on their own research as well as on services to the cadets – called midshipmen – such as chaperoning trips.
Teachers at the Naval Academy who are in the military are not subject to the same furloughs, and have been instructed not to take on additional work to make up for the absence of their civilian colleagues.
Meanwhile, no classes will be canceled at the academies for the Army and Air Force as military instructors there will pick up the slack.
The fall term for the Naval Academy begins on Monday, Aug. 19, according to its website. There are 287 civilian and 221 military faculty members.
A spokesman for the Naval Academy confirms that some classes will likely be cancelled.
"We anticipate that some classes within course sections may need to be cancelled due to faculty members' scheduled furlough days," spokesman Navy Cmdr. John Schofield wrote in an email.
"The human resources department has provided civilian faculty different furlough day options from which to choose at the department level," he says. "These options are designed to have the least impact on our mission while still adhering to the mandatory 20 percent reduction in work and pay during the furlough period."
These cancellations will be handled similarly to snow day closures, he says. Departments may make exceptions to the furlough days for "special circumstances and calendar conflicts."
The number of classes canceled will depend on "individual class section schedules and midshipmen schedules," Schofield says.
The civilian instructors' military counterparts are not replacing any civilian colleagues' teaching duties during the mandatory furlough periods, he adds, as directed by the Office of Personnel Management.
Cadets at other service academies will not feel the same crunch.
The Army's academy, known as the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, is working around these furloughs. A spokesman tells U.S. News that no classes will be canceled there.
"All classes will continue," says Army Col. Charles Stafford, USMA chief of staff. "Military personnel may well be required to fill in for civilian faculty on furlough days."
The Pentagon and the Army have not offered direct instruction on how West Point should implement the mandatory 11 furlough days for civilians, he says. This shortage will affect student services, such as the barber shop, which will be open four days per week instead of its usual five.
"We will continue to execute our mission in accordance with minimal mission requirements," Stafford says.
The academy currently has has 694 civilian faculty and staff. Civilians make up 27 percent of the teaching staff.
Likewise, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., will not have any fewer classes.
"Adjustments to teaching schedules will be made in a seamless manner and, at this time, we do not anticipate any classes being canceled because of sequestration or furloughs," says Meade Warthen, chief of the academy's media relations division, in an email.
"All mission requirements will be met," he says.
Civilians make up roughly 30 percent of the teaching staff there.
The secretary of the Navy spoke earlier in June about the delicate situation facing the military, which needs to overcome the effect of the broad across-the-board cuts, while also proving to Congress and the American people that its warnings leading up to the March 1 deadline were not unfounded.
"You have two sides here: One is the argument that you need to show the pain, need to cut some very high profile things, and you need to [not] do things that are very noticeable," said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus at a breakfast meeting with reporters on June 13.
Mabus points to troops gearing up for deployment abroad as a good example of the effects of the cuts. Troops currently deployed and those preparing to do so will likely not receive any less training or equipment, he says. The effects will likely land on the next round of troops, and every subsequent round as long as sequestration is in effect.
"To show the pain early, you're going to have to do some things that I think earlier are just irresponsible to do," he said. "On the flip side of that, because these are cumulative things, because they don't all show up [at once], you do get the notion of 'Oh, that's not so bad. You guys oversold it. The world didn't come to an end the day that sequestration kicked in.'"
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced in May that almost all of the roughly 800,000 civilians within the department would be subject to 11 days of furloughs between July 8 and Sept. 31, the end of the fiscal year. This would ultimately cut 20 percent of their paychecks during that time.
Those directly involved in the warfighting effort in locations such as Afghanistan would be exempt from the cuts.
"We'll continue to search for ways to do better, but right now I can't run this institution into the ditch," he said in a town hall meeting at the Mark Center in Virginia on May 14. "We've taken this as close to the line as we can."
The department originally thought it would have to furlough civilians for 22 days.
Hagel described the climate that prompted Congress to allow sequestration to take place as a time when "institutions, and consequently individuals, come loose of their moorings."
These furloughs will amount to roughly $1.8 billion in savings – a meager amount for a department that spends up to trillions of dollars on weapons systems, but an indicator of the nature of these across-the-board cuts.
Editors Note: The classes referenced in this story refers to a class on one day, not an entire course over an academic term.
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Clarification 6/26/13: The classes referenced in this story refers to a single class on one day, not an entire course over an academic term.