Fort Bliss Plans for Possible Cutbacks

11,000 furloughs expected if no deal is reached by March 1

EL PASO, Texas - Sequestration-related cutbacks may soon extend to the borderland.

If Congress is unable to reach an agreement on cost-cutting measures by Mar. 1, every federally-funded agency's budget will be cut 10-percent across the board.

This includes the Department of Defense, which is already preparing for the cutbacks set to take effect at the start of next month.

"We'd have to furlough all of the employees for 22 days," Fort Bliss public affairs director Major Joseph Buccino said. "We're not talking about 22 consecutive days, it'd be in a measure that is staggered so we could continue all of our services at all of our facilities."

The employees Buccino is referring to are the more than 11,000 civilian workers at Fort Bliss.  They are the janitors, the food-service workers, the landscapers, and others. 

Twenty-two days, which does not include weekends, would be a month's worth of missed wages for the workers.

In addition to the potential furloughs, Buccino says there will be cutbacks in training for troops not expected to deploy in the near future.

Quality-of-life installations on post will also suffer.  Buccino says things like Fort Bliss's medical clinics and gyms will see a reduction in operating hours in order to comply with the cuts.

Buccino says while the civilian employees are away on furlough, Fort Bliss soldiers would filling in -- cleaning the bathrooms, working in the dining facilities, even cutting the grass.

"The army used to operate on a very small civilian workforce," Buccino said. "We used to clean our own latrines. We're going to have to revert back to that -- everybody's got to tighten their belts."


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