Furlough Hits Army War College

05.31.13 | Abby Lutcher

Cucolo told the town hall meeting of faculty, civilians and military personnel that while the timeframe of the furlough period had been reduced from the earlier projection of 22 days down to 11 days, the forced time off without pay would still have a great impact. “It’s still painful,” said Cucolo, commandant to the college and commanding general of the barracks. Due to the forced budget cuts forced on by the federal sequestration, the Department of Defense must cut $500 billion over the next 10 years from its budget. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the furloughs May 14, making the Pentagon among the few federal departments that have found it necessary to roll them out in order to meet the mandated budgetary cuts. The furloughs impact the estimated 660 civilian employees who work at the college and barracks. The post has a general population of 1,700, which includes military, civilian, contractors and visiting personnel. Notices for furloughs, which will run from July 8 until Sept. 30, will go out immediately, Cucolo said. With few holiday exceptions, furlough days will be Mondays. A general hiring freeze will be in effect during the furlough except to allow mission critical hiring. All temporary employees will be terminated. Furlough days will be no-pay days, and equates to a 4 percent pay cut to personnel, he said. "My employees essentially lose 20 percent of their pay over an 11-week period," he said. "The public should know that our DOD civilian workforce essentially got a 4 percent pay cut from their annual pay check. Monetary rewards and step increases are suspended until next year. Full-time employees will receive no annual nor sick leave for one (two-week) pay period.  Automatic payments and health insurance premiums will continue as normal, he said. Retirement plans will not be impacted by the furloughs. The Army has no forced-out plans.
"I care about everyone of the people that work for me.” - Major Gen. Tony Cucolo, U.S. Army War College. Cucolo said that executing the forced furloughs had been a frustrating task. Cucolo said senior Army leadership had empathy and compassion for DOD employees and that it motivated leadership to take steps to care for them through this period. Cucolo said the forced time off without pay would certainly have an impact on the local community, especially that of Carlisle. “Little old Carlisle Barracks is a major forward operating base for retirees, veterans, the wonderful Guard and reserve soldiers and families, sailors, airmen and marines and families in central Pennsylvania,” he said. “We’re it for miles for certain services. When the commissary is closed it may seem like a small thing to others but to a large number of families and veterans in the area that has an impact.” No decision has been finalized regarding furloughs to security and fire fighting personnel. Cucolo said he would not compromise safety and security on post. “ I’m not going to let that happen,” he said. “My residents, this includes my family, my residents and folks who work here are going to have safety security and first response for something that happens. I’m taking this to the mat. If for some reason there is a furlough, I’m going to find other ways to deal with that”