General Hopeful Furlough Days Can Be Cut Back
A four-star general was at Fort Drum Thursday morning, saying he hopes furlough days for civilian workers can be trimmed back.
At the same time, he echoed the concerns of the Secretary of Defense and other top military leaders, who have said further deep cuts will leave the nation less prepared for war.
Gen. John Campbell is the Army's vice chief of staff. He said savings found elsewhere in the military may let the Army "buy back" some of the 11 furlough days now facing many civilian workers.
"We understand the impact it has on the families and the people that are furloughed," he said.
"The department is really working very hard to make sure that we can hopefully buy back some of those -- I don't know the days -- I've heard anywhere from between three and six."
"And we look at that as buying back readiness, as our great civilians provide that readiness."
Campbell warned, however, that more sequestration cuts will force the Army into more painful cuts, reducing the number of active- and reserve-duty soldiers.
Sequestration is now expected to take a $52 billion bite out of federal spending in the coming year, which for budget purposes starts October 1.
With that in mind, Defense SEcretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a military-wide review of spending. Politico reports the Army could continue to shrink, to a force of 420,000 to 450,000 soldiers.
At Fort Drum Thursday, General Campbell cautioned against cuts that he warned would reduce the Army to levels "pre-1940."
And he cautioned deep cuts will affect soldiers as well as civilians.
"So your Army's going to get smaller, and the challenge we have - and what Secretary (John) McHugh and General (Ray) Odierno are committed to doing as we continue to downsize, that we don't become a hollow force."
Campbell called it sad that Congress can't agree to prevent the next round of automatic spending cuts.
Monday, March 2, 2015, Watertown, NY