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Furlough days mean Marine logistics bases to go dark

Jun. 7, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By HOPE HODGE   |   Comments
1st Marines Logistics Group visits Barstow
Marines with Maintenance Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., work on an MATV engine at Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow. Work at the two Marine Corps logistics bases will shut down for a total of 11 days between now and the end of September as civilians are furloughed. (Cpl. Thomas Bricker / Marine Corps)

Work at the Marines’ two major logistics bases will effectively shut down on days this summer when civilian workers are furloughed, the chief of Marine Corps Installations and Logistics said.

Lt. Gen. William Faulkner, deputy commandant of installations and logistics, said Monday that 11 days of furloughs for Defense Department civilians will essentially mean 11 days of work that don’t get done this year at Marine Corps Logistics Bases Albany, Ga., and Barstow, Calif., where most of the military equipment the Corps has shipped back from Afghanistan still awaits cleaning and repair.

“For the most part it’s going to be equivalent to a Saturday or a Sunday, with the exception of our military,” he said. “So there will be other planning ongoing, we’ll make sure that when the civilian Marines come back to work on their non-furlough days they’ll be able to take maximum advantage of it, but that’s the impact, and it’s pretty significant.”

Civilian workers far outnumber Marines at the logistics bases. With more than 2,000 DoD civilian employees subject to furlough, and just 400 Marines on station, Albany has the second-highest civilian worker population of any Marine Corps installation except Quantico, Va. At Barstow, a small base with roughly 100 Marines, more than 1,200 civilians face furlough, the 5th-highest civilian contingent.

Faulkner made clear that no Marines will be called in to do the jobs of civilian workers on furloughs, a stipulation of the furlough agreement.

“You can’t risk taking our civilian Marines out of the picture associated with the depots and ... think you can continue to conduct depot operations at the same level; they’re too integral,” Faulkner said. “It’s not like there are just a handful of civilian Marines who are going to not be working that day. ... So what happens is we have to defer that maintenance, and it goes off into the next fiscal year.”

The logistics bases are responsible for renovating vehicles and equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan so they can be shipped back to the fleet, a project expected to continue for several years after the last Marine returns home from Afghanistan.

Faulkner said the department has requested a number of furlough exemptions in accordance with guidelines laid out in a memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: firefighters, rescue and law enforcement workers, and shipyard maintenance employees.

For larger bases, such as Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Pendleton, Calif., each with roughly 2,000 civilian workers maining gates and security checkpoints and playing key support roles, furlough days might look different from base to base, Faulkner said.

“We’ve worked very hard to push ... decision-making authority down to those commanders responsible for executing those day-to-day functions,” he said. “What we’ve avoided is to try to make determinations at the Pentagon level for how it impacts bases and stations.”

Civilians throughout the Defense Department began to receive furlough notices last week, in accordance with strategy Hagel laid out last month. Furlough notifications were slated to reach all affected DoD workers by Wednesday. The 11 mandated unpaid work days, designed to trim defense spending, will be taken at the rate of one day a week between July 8 and Sept. 30 of this year. In total, the Marine Corps has nearly 19,700 civilian workers who stand to be furloughed, according to a February Marine Corps planning document.

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