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Some Wisconsin National Guard members face furloughs

Jun. 17, 2013 - 11:04AM   |  
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MILWAUKEE — Hundreds of Wisconsin National Guard members face furloughs as the result of the automatic federal budget cuts that took effect earlier this year.

Most of Wisconsin’s 10,000 guard members won’t be affected by the budget cuts because they are state employees or considered active-duty military personnel.

But some people are government technicians — people who have dual status, meaning their jobs require them to be a member of the Wisconsin National Guard, but during the week they're technically civilians working for the federal government even though they're in uniform, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday.

About 700 guard members who are considered Defense Department technicians must take 11 furlough days before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. The guard members recently learned how many furlough days they must take. There had been rumors it could be as many as 20.

The guard members affected by the furloughs range from pilots and mechanics to people who work in human resources and finance.

“The key is, we’re maintaining readiness, but we have had to make significant adjustments to how we train and operate in order to maintain that capability,” said Wisconsin guard spokesman Maj. Paul Rickert, who will be furloughed.

“It is a reduced capability. If you remove 20 percent of the people in your office, you won’t have the same capabilities,” he added.

The furloughs are not expected to affect weekend guard duty or annual training for guard units.

Furloughs at 128th Air Refueling Wing based at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee are scheduled to start after July 8. But Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Rohloff said guard members assigned to the wing can go on active military status during their 11 furlough days so they don’t lose pay.

Rohloff said the wing is doing other things to cut costs, such as cutting back on outreach programs and halting its honor guard’s travel to funerals outside the Milwaukee area.

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