Area Navy furloughs could touch 8,500 civilians

Military community told to prepare for the worst

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The admiral in charge of all Navy operations in northeast Florida says looming budget cuts could be devastating to the military community and possibly hamper national security.

Sequestration -- the mandatory cuts that will go into effect March 1 if the U.S. Congress fails to agree on more structured budget reductions -- would require one-day-a-week furloughs for all civilian employees of the military. That would affect more than 8,500 workers in Jacksonville -- many of them at Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport -- and at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

"These are workers that fix our airplanes, that fix our ships," said Rear Adm. Jack Scorby, commander of Navy Region Southeast. "These are hospital workers. These are police officers; they are firefighters. It runs the gamut, and these employees are really critical in accomplishing our mission."

These workers would lose 22 days of work between April through September -- the equivalent of a 20 percent cut in pay.

"The effects of sequestration and continuing resolution on our military personnel will be devastating, but on our civilians will be catastrophic," said Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica Wright.

While active-duty military personnel would not face furloughs, their annual pay increase would be reduced to 1 percent. And officials say the reduction in civilian hours could have an impact on readiness and national security.

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