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Furloughs to affect National Guard employees
Cutbacks wont impact armory in Gainesville
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Furloughs began this week for some 1,200 Georgia National Guard technicians as part of automatic federal budget cuts.

None affects the Gainesville armory, 153 Alta Vista Road, home to Charlie Company, 1-121st Infantry of the 48th Brigade, said Mary-Therese Tebbe, the National Guard’s public affairs director.

Furloughs began Monday and will run for 11 weeks — one day per week — until Sept. 20, she said.

They will amount to a 20 percent pay cut for workers.

The move is part of sequestration, which began March 1 with the U.S. government trimming some $85 billion as part of an overall $1.2 trillion, 10-year reduction in federal spending.

About half the total cuts will affect defense and the other half will hit nondefense areas, such as food inspection, education and small business loan guarantees.

The National Guard Association of the United States, based in Washington, D.C., released a statement Monday saying that nearly a nearly 50,000-member force “critical to National Guard readiness” was facing furloughs.

“These soldiers and airmen perform day-to-day administrative, logistical and maintenance functions,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., the group’s president.

“They are the backbone of our organization,” said Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth, Georgia’s adjutant general.

A Habersham County native, he reports to Gov. Nathan Deal and oversees nearly 14,000 personnel of the Georgia Department of Defense, including the Georgia Army National Guard, the Georgia Air National Guard and Georgia State Defense Force.

Reports suggest federal civilians are taking the brunt of furloughs, as part of overall sequestration, but the National Guard is a different animal, Butterworth said.

“Five days a week, we employ these federal technicians and then on the weekends, they turn into National Guard members,” he said. “They wear a uniform every day of the week of their military rank, so we’re taking a pretty good hit.

“If you take away a large percentage of our workforce for one day a week, that seriously impacts our preparedness, the maintenance of our machinery ... and will reduce our flying time,” Butterworth added.

He also expects the furloughs will have an economic impact across the state.

“That’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Butterworth said.

The adjutant general did say “we’re all for being a part of the solution, (but) we’re still hopeful that maybe this 11-week furlough may be reduced.

“The burden of the fiscal solution should not be put on the backs of the families of our National Guard members, those who have served in harm’s way and continue to.”

The Georgia National Guard still has about 1,000 members deployed overseas, Butterworth said.

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