Army slashing 8,700 jobs as budget cuts begin


Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned that the federal budget cuts could be “devastating” for the Pentagon. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

With deeper budget cuts looming, the Pentagon is starting to cut back by trimming the Defense Department’s civilian workforce.

The Army said Thursday it is moving forward with plans announced in July to cut about 8,700 positions, using a mix of early retirement offers, buyouts and attrition to trim the jobs by the end of the fiscal year in late September.

“Army commands and agencies are continuing to take necessary actions to reduce their civilian on-board strength to meet funded targets established by the secretary of defense and reflected in the President’s budget,” Thomas R. Lamont, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, said in a statement. “To the maximum extent possible, the Army will rely on voluntary departures to achieve these manpower reductions.”

The cuts will come in 37 states at 70 different locations across eight commands and agencies with nearly 90 percent of the cuts taking place within the Installation Management Command, Army Materiel Command and the Training and Doctrine Command. Most of the cuts are likely to occur in Virginia and Texas, where most of the DOD’s civilian workers are located.

In addition to eligible workers who retire, commanders will be able to use voluntary early retirement offers and buyouts to cut jobs, the Army said.

The failure of the bipartisan debt supercommittee means the Pentagon budget could be cut by a total of $1 trillion over the next decade — what defense leaders warn is a “huge” cut that would amount to a 23 percent reduction in the defense budget, resulting in furloughs and layoffs of “many” civilians and a reduction in the size of the military. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned that the cuts could be “devastating” for the Pentagon, creating a “substantial risk” that the country’s defense needs might not be met.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

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Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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