Guard furloughs under way in Arkansas


FORT SMITH — Over the next three months, about 1,000 military technicians serving in the Arkansas National Guard will lose 20 percent of their pay.

The technicians in Arkansas join 53,000 technicians nationwide who began one-day-per-week furloughs triggered by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which caused $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts to reduce the federal deficit over the next decade, including $492 billion cut from the Department of Defense.

Nearly 30 percent of the technicians affected in Arkansas work in Fort Smith — 203 at the 188th Fighter Wing and 70 at the Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center, according to Maj. Matt Snead, Arkansas Guard public affairs officer. The bulk of the others work in Central Arkansas, at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock or Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville.

“Most of the technical work force is in the maintenance arena, and (Little Rock and Fort Smith) are where most of the technical work force is located,” he said.

Military technicians are full-time civilian federal employees performing military duties in uniform, in addition to being traditional part-time guardsmen in their units.

The furloughs began Monday and will continue for three months, Snead said. They will affect force readiness, although to what extent is not yet known, he said.

“However, we can assure the public whether we’re called to respond to a national or state emergency, we will be ready to respond,” said Snead, who was serving his one-day-a-week furlough Wednesday. “We know we’ll pull through, it’s our job. We have to.”

Overall, the 1,000 men and women affected by the furloughs will lose an average of $3,259 in income over the next three months, or a total of about $3.2 million, Snead said.

Jeff Arnold writes for the Times Record in Fort Smith