Each of the military branches has described in detailed memos to Congress widespread civilian furloughs, layoffs and hiring freezes that will hit workers all around the country. Overall, the Pentagon will furlough 800,000 civilian workers for 22 days, spread across more than five months, and will lay off as many as 46,000 temporary and contract employees, according to the correspondence.
The Navy said it will cease deployments to South America and the Caribbean and limit deployments to Europe. The Air Force warned that it would cut operations at various missile defense radar sites from 24 hours to eight hours. The Army said it would cancel training center rotations for four brigades and cancel repairs for thousands of vehicles, radios and weapons.
There is also concern that the readiness levels of the U.S. nuclear force could be degraded. The Air Force general responsible for maintaining the nation's fleet of nuclear-capable bombers said Wednesday that the possibility of sequestration and smaller defense budgets has led his command to make a 10 percent cut in flying hours for the B-52 bomber, a long-range aircraft that has been in operation since the 1950s.
"At the wing and the squadron level, they can probably manage that for a little while, and then we'll have to see what the impact of that is," said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of the Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.
The B-52, which is the bomber fleet's workhorse, is already flying 20 percent fewer training missions than it did in 2001, according to Kowalski.
Kowalski also said discussions among senior national security officials are underway to determine whether missions handled by the nation's nuclear forces should get priority budget status in the event of sequestration. Global Strike Command also is responsible for B-2 stealth bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
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