Budget cuts could mean furloughs for military members - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Budget cuts could mean furloughs for military members


Thousands of military men and women in Alabama could soon face furloughs.

Mandatory spending cuts in Washington, known as sequestration, were designed to force Congress to come up with a budget.

But so far, the political gridlock continues, meaning possible furloughs for men and women in uniform.

Members of Alabama's National Guard are trying to wrap their minds around 22 days without pay.

"That would be pretty difficult on people and their families," says Col. Christopher Morgan.

Morgan is one of nearly 2,000 potential full-time Alabama National Guard members that could be furloughed this year.

Most of them are employees in office positions.

It happened to Morgan before--nearly 20 years ago.

"We were furloughed 4 days, but they did come back and pay us."

That's not a sure thing this time around.

Col. Dennis Butters is keeping tabs on the Department of Defense's budget discussions.

He believes the final decision will not only include furloughs, but reduced soldier training, too.

"What we're focusing on right now is just those required training activities that we need to maintain our operational readiness," says Butters.

Butters doesn't believe decreased training puts the nation at risk.

In fact, recent wars pumped up the defense budget allowing for it.

Now, these potential cuts could bring the department back to pre-war levels.

"With the conscious efforts of reducing things," adds Butters.

Some good news--non full-time active duty military men and women--those who typically report to drill once a month and undergo yearly training--won't be asked to take furloughs.

Unfortunately the burden falls on folks like Morgan and his team.

"I worry about some of my folks that work for me out here."

The Alabama National Guard won't be the only branch affected by the cuts.

Men and women in similar roles across the armed forces could feel the crunch.

Officials say budget cuts will not affect current or planned military missions.

Congress has until March 1st to act before those mandatory cuts go into affect.

If they do, officials believe the furlough days likely will be spread throughout the year.

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