Navy bases to soon bear brunt of budget cuts, Atsugi commander says
TOKYO — Navy bases worldwide will soon bear the brunt of the automatic budget cuts that went into effect March 1, as slowdowns and reduced operations take their toll.
Installations have been directed to cut base operating costs by 10 percent, along with facilities spending by 50 percent, Naval Air Facility Atsugi commander Capt. Steven Wieman stated in a memo Friday.
“Actions such as mandatory reductions in utility costs, and cancellation of scheduled maintenance, will soon be felt throughout [Atsugi],” Wieman stated.
Servicemembers can also expect to see reductions in facility operating hours and customer service availability, as well as unspecified changes in “climate control policies in work spaces,” Wieman stated.
Atsugi is also preparing for the looming furlough of its civilian employees for one day each week. The Pentagon expects to furlough as many as 800,000 civilian employees if Congress does not soon pass a bill that reverses the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts known as sequestration.
The sequester is also expected to have a significant effect on operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet, according to Navy officials. Time at sea, flight hours and maintenance will all eventually face cuts if the spending impasse continues throughout the year.
Sequestration was purposely developed as an undesirable program, meant to encourage Democrats and Republicans to come up with a targeted plan for budget deficit reduction. The parties failed to come to an agreement before the March 1 deadline, despite sequestration’s deep unpopularity among each party’s leadership.