Local News

Fort Bragg braces for civilian furloughs

Posted March 1, 2013 6:17 p.m. EST
Updated March 1, 2013 7:03 p.m. EST

— Federal spending cuts that took effect Friday mean furloughs for about 8,500 civilian defense employees who work at Fort Bragg will begin in late April, unless Congress and President Barack Obama can reach a deal.

The Department of Defense has to absorb about half of the $85 billion in cuts, and plans call for cutting civilian employees to four-day workweeks through the end of September.

"That would hurt me pretty significantly, being a single parent," said Wanda Kindall, a budget analyst for Fort Bragg. "I couldn't afford child care if I had to lose 20 percent of my pay."

Kindall, 45, said she spends $360 per pay period for child care and will lose "a little more than $400" from each paycheck because of the furlough.

The cuts also mean that soldiers could have to pick up duties usually handled by civilians, such as grounds keeping.

"You won't see any impacts immediately," Fort Bragg spokesman Col. Kevin Arata said. "It's not like flipping off a light switch where, immediately today because it's March 1, we start feeling a reduction."

Training exercises will continue for the foreseeable future, Arata said, adding that readiness might be affected if the budget impasse drags on.

"Ammunition is paid for for the year. We've got ammunition, we've got ranges, so training can happen," he said.

The Global Response Force, which includes brigades in the 82nd Airborne Division, which stand by to respond to the world’s hot spots, won't be affected by the cuts, Arata said.

"That ensures that, if and when the nation needs us, they’re prepared, and their ready," he said.

Fayetteville also is bracing for the ripple effect of the furloughs. Fort Bragg is, by far, the region's biggest employer, with more than 60,000 military and civilian employees.

"I would like the politicians to go ahead and make a decision now for the people – not against us – because that's a cut in pay some of us will not be able to afford," Kindall said.