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Military budget cuts could mean furloughs for thousands in Oklahoma, according to senator's study

An analysis prepared for Sen. Jim Inhofe on the worst-case scenario for Oklahoma's bases warns of widespread civilian furloughs and cutbacks to training and maintenance.
by Chris Casteel Published: January 29, 2013

Thousands of civilians at Oklahoma's military bases may have to be furloughed, while training and maintenance would have to be curtailed to the point of affecting preparation for critical missions, according to an analysis prepared for Sen. Jim Inhofe on the potential effects of looming budget cuts.

Inhofe, of Tulsa, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview Tuesday that the analysis presents the worst-case scenario for Oklahoma's installations.

But he said the threat from the cuts set to be triggered in early March is real, not only to Oklahoma installations but to bases around the world.

Inhofe said he is planning a presentation Wednesday to an influential group of Republican senators about the potential impacts of the cuts, known as sequestration, in hopes that his colleagues will back his effort to prevent them.

Compromise sought

The budget cuts are the result of the debt-ceiling agreement reached in the summer of 2011. In all, more than $1 trillion in reductions, spread out over 10 years, are scheduled to go into effect, with the Department of Defense bearing about $500 billion.

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders were expected to negotiate a compromise sparing the military from the disproportionate cuts, but that hasn't happened; the cuts were delayed for two months in the “fiscal cliff” agreement approved last month.

Pentagon leaders have been warning the cuts would be devastating and have been urging Congress to act; the military branches have been asked to develop plans for absorbing the cuts to minimize the effect on conducting the war in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other leaders have said furloughs are possible, along with cutbacks to training and maintenance.

Oklahoma ties

Tinker Air Force Base — which has about 14,000 civilians and a wide range of missions, including aircraft maintenance at its massive depot — has not been told yet to institute furloughs or cut back on aircraft repair work.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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