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In the face of congressional gridlock over the 2008 war spending bill, U.S. Army Pacific is planning for possible budget and personnel cuts.

Gen. Richard Cody, the Army’s vice chief of staff, told base commanders to figure out their weekly costs of minimum essential operations and develop plans to use soldiers as replacements for civilians and contractors who might have to be laid off around Feb. 23, according to The Associated Press. The directive was issued last month.

U.S. Army Japan officials deferred queries about the issue to U.S. Army Pacific in Hawaii.

“U.S. Army Pacific is beginning prudent planning as directed by the Department of the Army for potential reduced funding and its impact on operations,” Col. Wayne Shanks, a command spokesman, said in a statement e-mailed to Stars and Stripes.

In a speech last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that as many as 100,000 civilians and 100,000 contractors could be furloughed, the AP reported.

Almost 900 civilians are employed by U.S. Army Japan, including roughly 220 at Torii Station on Okinawa, according to figures recently released by the command.

U.S. Army Pacific declined to provide details of its cost-cutting plan Thursday and wouldn’t discuss the possibility of civilian and contractor layoffs.

“As a part of this planning, we will ensure we continue to meet mission-essential requirements while doing everything we can to minimize the turbulence for our soldiers, professional Army civilians and their families,” Shanks said.

Stars and Stripes reporter Jimmy Norris contributed to this report.


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