Services cite sweeping state-by-state spending cuts
By Tom Vanden Brook | USA Today | Published: February 20, 2013
WASHINGTON — Budget cuts by the Air Force, Army and Navy scheduled to take effect March 1 will force almost $34 billion in wage and spending reductions and prompt furloughs or layoffs for millions of people, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY.
The Army's estimated cuts will force $15 billion in wage and spending reductions and prompt furloughs or layoffs for 300,000 people nationwide, while the Navy could face $11 billion in similar cuts affecting a potential 186,000 employees, records show. The Air Force estimates $7.7 billion in lost pay for its civilian employees.
Hardest hit states by the Army cuts include Alabama, Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Among the least affected: Delaware, Wyoming, Montana and Rhode Island.
The Navy meanwhile expects sequestration will force it to cut $7.75 billion from its shipbuilding programs and another $4 billion in funds for operations and maintenance, according to Navy planning documents. The Navy's civilian employees could lose 20% of their salaries through furloughs.
California, Florida and Virginia would be most affected by the Navy cuts, the planning documents show.
Overall, the military faces $500 billion in budget cuts over 10 years from sequestration -- automatic budget cuts. The Pentagon anticipates that it will need to slash $46 billion in spending cuts by the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30 for all the services to meet the requirement for 2013. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts could render the U.S. military a second-rate power.
"It reaffirms what we have continued to say about the serious implications that sequestration will have on our national defense and broader economic well-being," said Mike Amato, a spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.
The cuts will affect every Army installation, according to the documents. States with large bases and military contractors are taking the biggest hits.
Texas, for instance, would face a $2.4 billion economic loss from the Army's budget cuts. Nearly 30,000 Army civilian employees will be furloughed if the cuts go into effect. They will lose $180 million in pay. Texas is home to two of the Army's largest installations -- Fort Hood and Fort Bliss.
"These states are where the soldiers are -- Texas especially," said Thomas Donnelly, a defense expert at the American Enterprise Institute.
Michael O'Hanlon, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution, said the services were playing politics to a degree by releasing figures showing cuts in the most dramatic ways. However, he said the cuts could have lasting, damaging impacts.
Texas would also be hard-hit by Air Force cuts, losing $127 million in wages. Other states affected by the Air Force cuts include Oklahoma, whose civilian employees stand to lose $124 million in lost wages.
President Obama stepped up pressure on Republicans in Congress to help avoid the cuts by passing a plan including other spending cuts and changes in tax policy that would bring extra revenue. The cuts, he said Tuesday, are "not an abstraction — people will lose their jobs."
In testimony last week on Capitol Hill, Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, told lawmakers that 3,100 temporary employees were being laid off and a hiring freeze had been implemented because of the budget crisis. Maintenance would be canceled and training for soldiers not headed to Afghanistan or South Korea would be curtailed.
The Army's plan might overstate the budget crisis a bit, but it also points out major problems on the horizon, Donnelly said. Since military personnel costs are exempt from sequestration, the cuts fall more heavily in other areas, particularly training. That affects readiness for fighting, he said.
The states most affected have big maintenance depots, which will be shuttered in coming months because of the cuts. Pennsylvania, for example, has two major maintenance depots and is targeted for $751 million in savings. Its Letterkenny Depot upgrades weapons systems, including Patriot missiles.
Alabama's Anniston Army Depot could see $710 million in cuts, while the Corpus Christi Army Depot in Texas could face $799 million in cuts, the documents show.
Closing the depots would stop repairs on 17,000 weapons, 14,000 communication devices and 1,000 vehicles, according to the Army. Purchase orders would also be reduced, affecting 3,000 companies and putting 1,100 at risk of bankruptcy.