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.
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.