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Pentagon furloughs still uncertain as services disagree on need

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he’s still reviewing options that may avert furloughs more than three months after the Pentagon said automatic budget cuts may require unpaid leave for as many as 750,000 civilian workers.

“We are examining every option for responsible cuts in order to minimize or
possibly eliminate the necessity of furloughs,” Hagel
said in a letter to Rep. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican. “However, furloughs may be necessary during sequester to assure that the funding for our warfighters and readiness meet mission requirements.”

The April 26 letter to Lankford, who serves on the House Budget Committee, reflects conflicting views of the need for furloughs among the military services – the Navy says it doesn’t need them – as well as the Pentagon’s changing fiscal outlook under the cuts called sequestration.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter first warned in January that the Pentagon’s civilian employees “all over the country” may face forced days off.

Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters yesterday that Hagel “remains in discussions with his senior team” and expected a decision to come “very soon.”

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