This story was updated at 10:50 a.m. Thursday to reflect new information:
Officials for the service academies announced that football games on Saturday, Oct. 5 would proceed as planned. The games between Air Force and Navy in Annapolis, Md., as well as West Point and Boston College in Boston were originally canceled due to the government shutdown.
Scott Strasemeier, the Navy associate athletic director, tweeted Wednesday night "#NavyFootball game on Saturday against Air Force is a GO."
#NavyFootball game on Saturday against Air Force is a GO. Kickoff 11:30 AM on CBS. No word on the rest of the sports this weekend.— Scott Strasemeier (@ScottStras) October 3, 2013
United Airlines had offered to fly the Air Force Academy to the Navy game, following restrictions on non-essential travel for military members. USA Today reported late Wednesday that the Department of Defense had approved the teams' travel.
This story was originally posted at 12:42 p.m. Wednesday:
America's future military leaders are getting a dose of the more grueling aspects of government service, as all civilian faculty at the three largest service academies were sent home from classes.
Civilians make up more than a quarter of the staff at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a third at the U.S. Air Force Academy and more than half of the teachers at the U.S. Naval Academy. All of them were forced from the classroom Tuesday morning following the government shutdown, leaving their military officer colleagues with a larger load on their mortarboards.
"We're in full business. As far as the students are concerned...they haven't seen an impact," said one Naval Academy military instructor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
But that could change as these temporary plans face off against a deadlocked Congress.
"The intellectual depth and rigor that usually goes with a top college is quickly being lost," the officer says.
This staffing shortfall is different than those under sequestration this past summer. Those furloughs, which prompted the Naval Academy to plan for class cancellations, were a cost-saving measure and thus military counterparts were barred from picking up any of the slack.
These are required by law, leaving teachers scrambling to maintain the high educational standards these officers-in-training expect.
Instructors are doubling or as much as tripling up on their usual course loads after Tuesday morning, when civilian faculty were allowed four hours to come to work and prepare for their absences.
The Naval Academy instructor and his colleagues are spreading the vacant 100- and 200-level classes between them, which are within their expertise to teach. Putting a body behind the podium gets increasingly difficult, the officer says, in the more advanced classes that only a select few civilians taught.
This temporary scheme was set up to last for about a week, the officer says, warning of future degradation if Congress is unable to agree on a budget and re-open the government.
Congress' inability to reach a consensus on the budget by Monday night prompted the government to shut down due to a lack of appropriations. This excepts any active-duty military member, or civilian whose work supports those missions. It also exempts contractors, whose money was allocated prior to the shutdown.
This leaves roughly 400,000 Department of Defense civilian employees out of work.
The Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y. receives funding from the Department of Transportation, and closed down entirely in the wake of the shutdown. All of the midshipmen at the much smaller academy there will be sent home, Marine Log reports, if the budget situation is not resolved within a week.
The three military academies have issued statements saying they will accomplish their missions of preparing cadets and midshipmen. Extra curricular activities, faculty research, trips and other events outside of the classroom will likely take a hit.
"The entire Air Force leadership is working hard to guide us through this turbulent time," according to a statement put out by the Air Force Academy. "Here at the Air Force's Academy, we will continue to conduct our mission to educate and train cadets, but that will be much more challenging without our civilian and contractor teammates who will be furloughed."
Sports teams will also cease traveling for games. This includes the football game on Saturday, Oct. 5 between the Air Force and Naval academies, which will be canceled.
The academies have also closed some services to students, such as the commissaries, that run off appropriated funding. Services that are self-funded or receive non governmental money, such as the military exchanges or so-called shoppettes will remain open.
"Activities at West Point are funded by appropriated funds, non-appropriated funds, and private donations or a combination of all three, making it difficult to determine if certain events or support can continue," according to a statement. "Academy officials are working closely with the Department of the Army to determine the appropriate way ahead."
The Naval Academy did not end up having to cancel classes this summer, a spokesman tells U.S. News, after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced in August that the department could cut the total furlough days down to six.
The service academies traditionally rank among the nation's best universities. According to the 2014 U.S. News & World Report Guide to colleges, The Naval Academy is ranked No. 12 among national liberal arts colleges. West Point is No. 17 and the Air Force Academy is No. 25. The academies, in this same order, make up the top three public colleges.
- Best Colleges: U.S. Military Academy at West Point
- First Female Air Force Superintendent Takes Command
- Best Colleges: U.S. Air Force Academy
Update 10/03/2013: Officials for the service academies announced that football games on Saturday, Oct. 5 would proceed as planned, despite earlier reports they would be canceled due to the government shutdown.