HEIDELBERG, Germany — While defense officials in Washington are predicting serious impacts if a war-spending bill isn’t passed soon, U.S. Army Europe officials said Thursday that they plan no drastic measures to save money.

Unlike this time last year before Congress passed the supplemental defense-spending bill, no temporary civilian workers in U.S. Army Europe are threatened with losing their jobs, no hiring freezes are planned and the summer-hire program for teenagers is still on, said Bruce Anderson, a USAREUR spokesman.

“I’d say our circumstances are such that we’re forward-deployed. We’re already mission-essential,” Anderson said, and so a delay in passing the bill “has less impact than in other commands.”

The Army has said some civilian job rotations, and accompanying household goods shipments, could be affected and possibly delayed, Anderson said. Whether that would affect USAREUR civilians undergoing permanent changes of station would depend on the type of civilian job, of which there are many and which come with a complex set of rules regarding them. Civilians scheduled to change job locations who are concerned, he said, should contact the Civilian Personnel Office.

U.S. Army Europe is taking steps to reduce spending. Among them are ordering commanders to:

Defer cash payments where possible and pay less upfront for contracted services.Minimize travel; eliminate or postpone nonessential temporary duty, conferences and training.Slow down repairs for equipment not needed in combat, or for force protection or family support.Draw down supplies and parts already in stock and not order more until supplies are depleted.“USAREUR will support the Army’s effort to reduce everything except the war, taking care of families and protecting soldiers, family members and civilians,” Anderson said.

Installation Management Command-Europe also is going over its programs with a “fine tooth comb” to get the most out of every dollar, said spokesman Ken White.

In addition to cutbacks similar to USAREUR’s, IMCOM has restricted use of government purchase cards. And it has significantly reduced cash allocated for public works-related projects, though an exact dollar figure was not immediately available. Budgeted public works projects are expected to resume, however, once funding is authorized, he said.

The response comes two days after President Bush vetoed a $124 billion measure to fund forces in Iraq and Afghanistan because the bill contained deadlines for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Now lawmakers, unable to override the veto, are regrouping and are expected to work with the White House to come up with a compromise bill.

Defense Department officials in Washington said this week that if no deal is reached before May 15, a lack of money will force a variety of cuts, including, possibly, delaying the rotation of seven Army brigade combat teams. That would mean that Army units already in Iraq and scheduled to stay there 15 months, would have their tours further extended.

U.S. Army Europe has thousands of soldiers currently deployed in Iraq, with the bulk of them from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.

The belt-tightening posture has become an annual event as war-spending is financed in part by supplemental spending bills. Since 2001, $500 billion has been funded for Iraq and Afghanistan operations.

Last year before the supplemental bill was passed, the Army ordered a civilian hiring freeze and the laying-off of all temporary workers, including those within USAREUR. But those measures were rescinded after the USAREUR commander, Gen. David McKiernan, convinced Army officials that they were not workable in Europe.

Reporter John Vandiver contributed to this story.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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