Army posts in the Pacific already are feeling the belt-tightening measures imposed by the Installation Management Agency, including a hiring freeze, an end to temporary and summer jobs, scaling back on environmental and force-protection programs and cessation of non-mission temporary duty travel.

But garrison commands in South Korea and Japan say they have asked for exemptions — and in some cases, saved vital programs — from the budget cuts mandated by IMA because of a $2.1 billion budget shortfall.

“The Korea region did a great job of getting ahead of the base operations support mission early in the fiscal year to complete many of the projects on the books,” said Steve Oertwig, spokesman for the Installation Management Agency Korea Regional Office, or KORO.

“The rest of the fiscal year ‘nice to have’ projects will be deferred. Health and safety and emergency services and repairs are our prime concern, but people won’t see drastic changes in day-to-day service.”

The cuts will have “little change” on force-protection measures in South Korea, he said. Force protection was one of 13 areas singled out by IMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., as an area in which to cut costs.

“The installation security contract was paid at the start of the fiscal year. Our contract security force will be at full strength for the rest of the year,” Oertwig said.

One of the bigger victories, Oertwig said, was getting the Army to fund the Tuition Assistance Program — a vital educational benefit for soldiers overseas — at 100 percent levels for the rest of the year.

KORO also has cut costs by relying on video teleconferencing, Oertwig said. With KORO canceling all temporary duty assignments, including within South Korea, the technology has allowed them to maintain coordination with their far-flung bases.

U.S. Army Garrison-Japan commander Col. Garland H. Williams has asked for several exceptions to allow students jobs this summer and to prevent a shortfall in child and youth services.

Williams said if current applications for child-services jobs are stymied, things such as child-care center accreditation could be affected. He also has asked the IMA to consider allowing summer jobs since teens in Japan can’t go off post for work like in the United States.

“We’re trying to make the case that we’re different,” he said. “A lot of students rely on this for college money.”

The cuts affect government-funded jobs, about half of the 70 or so jobs created each summer. Williams said the Army in Japan will continue taking applications for summer hires while they appeal.

The IMA cuts include bans on most TDY travel, and Williams has asked the IMA to consider all of Japan to be one base, allowing travel between geographically distant bases such as Camp Zama near Tokyo and Torii Station on Okinawa.

U.S. Army Garrison-Japan has at least seven bases spread over four prefectures.

IMA officials in Washington say they are addressing exemption requests on a case by case basis.

Other cuts in Japan, such as force-protection positions, will affect administrative positions rather than actual security, Williams said.

“Things are tight. The global war on terror costs money,” Williams said. “One of the things [creating IMA] did was to highlight how much it really costs to run a garrison’s base operations.”

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