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Fewer services in PACOM if furloughs take effect, top official says

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Furloughs would translate to “reduced services, longer wait times and fewer personnel available to provide necessary services,” in the Pacific region, according to Air Force Col. William Morrison, Pacific Command director of Manpower and Personnel.

Some 37,626 civilian employees could face furloughs in the Pacific region alone, Morrison said in an email to Stars and Stripes.

Despite anticipated effects on some “internal services,” Morrison said PACOM — one of the military’s six unified combatant commands — will remain committed to strengthening ties with allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region “whether providing superior combat capability in a security crisis or working with our interagency partners in a humanitarian disaster.”

For more than a year, the Pentagon has been talking up its pivot to the Pacific as assets in Afghanistan and Europe are shifted east.

Although “furloughs could harm our ability to do important work,” Morrison said, “sequestration as a near-term fiscal challenge should not be confused to mean a lack of long-term commitment” in the Pacific.

PACOM’s area of responsibility encompasses about half the world’s surface, from the west coast of the U.S. to the western border of India. Civilians account for roughly 10 percent of PACOM’s 325,000 personnel. Letters will be sent to them no later than 30 days from the start of the April 21-Sept. 20 furlough period.

PACOM is only managing the overall civilian personnel furlough policy for joint headquarter staffs, joint subordinate commands and direct reporting units in its chain of command. The individual services are responsible for their own staffs, Morrison said.

charlie.reed@stripes.com

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