STORY HIGHLIGHTS


Pentagon plans to furlough civilians

CNC report from Washington
Added On February 21, 2013

U.S. Defense Secretary has formally notified Congress that the Pentagon plans to put civilian defense employees on unpaid leave this year.

The cuts are due to take effect if the U.S. government spending cuts take effect on March 1.
   
The announcement of congressional notification begins a process that could ultimately lead to 22 days of unpaid leave for most of the department's 800,000 civilian employees around the globe.
   
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the furloughs would be "disruptive and damaging" to the Pentagon's defense mission.

But there were no "viable alternatives" to reduce spending if the budget cuts occur.
   
President Barack Obama has been sounding the alarm about the impact of the 85 billion dollars of cuts due to take effect on March 1.

He turned to local television stations across the country on Wednesday to increase public pressure on congressional Republicans to avert the cuts.
 
In addition, Secretary of State John Kerry defended U.S. foreign affairs spending against the backdrop of looming cuts, saying it protects U.S. security and creates jobs.
   
Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said there would be "very limited exceptions" to the furloughs.

The cuts include civilians in combat zones, foreign civilians at overseas bases, some police and healthcare workers and political appointees exempted by law.
   
Hale declined to estimate what percentage of the civilian workers were likely to be cut, but said it would be more than half.

Another defense official said more than 80 percent to be furloughed.
   
The unpaid leave, which will essentially cut the pay of civilian employees by 20 percent, is expected to save up to 5 billion dollars.

The Pentagon has been urges to slash 46 billion dollars in spending by the end of the year.