Government shutdown to impact U.S. military operations

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On the second day of the U.S. government shutdown, there is no drastic effect as of yet on the U.S. military, said officials in Tuesday. If the shutdown continues, everything from ship repairs to combat training could be affected, reported Agence France-Presse.

The move has placed about half of the Pentagon’s 800,000 strong civilian workforce on unpaid leave.


According to defense officials, the U.S. military will soon face manpower issues due to the decrease in civilian presence under the shutdown. The military relies on the civilian workforce to maintain logistical networks and keep equipment running.

“There’s going to be an impact, but it will take some time to feel the effect,” said a senior military officer, in comments carried by AFP.

Infographic: The U.S. government shutdown

infographic: Us shutdown
infographic: Us shutdown

The furloughs mean that “real work doesn’t get done,” said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

If the shutdown persists, work at shipyards and aircraft depots will be delayed, some military units will forgo training and routine administration will be neglected, officials told AFP.

U.S. federal agencies were ordered to shut down by the White House budget director late Monday, after Congress missed a deadline to pass a budget.

The government headed toward a shutdown over Republican efforts to halt President Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms as last minute maneuvers failed to resolve deep differences between Democrats and Republicans.

The U.S. government last shut its doors almost two decades ago in 1995, creating major problems.

Paul Eaton, a retired Army major general, told AFP that he faced huge difficulties trying to prepare an armored unit to deploy to Bosnia at the time.

“The disruption based on uncertainty in funding kept us in a consistent state of turmoil,” Eaton told a teleconference organized by the Truman National Security Project, a left-leaning Washington think tank.

“We didn’t know if the railways were going to be able to support us...we had tanks to move,” he said.

Eaton said the military faced an unprecedented situation with the current shutdown: “I certainly don’t know and I’m not sure anybody does know what we can anticipate over the next days, weeks or months,” he said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that the shutdown could have international remaifications for the U.S., potentially damaging its credibility abroad and fuelling anxiety among America’s allies.

Many officials and senior military officers at the Pentagon, already frustrated with automatic budget cuts, expressed disgust at the political stalemate that had created the crisis.

“We are dealing essentially with a shutdown of the Pentagon and civilian support for men and women in uniform,” said one official who asked not to be named. “And this was not caused by a foreign adversary or a catastrophic natural disaster - but it was man-made.”

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