Discussions taking place in Washington, D.C. could mean an early end to the furloughs of Department of Defense civilian employees. They're talks the Army Vice Chief of Staff confirmed on his trip to Fort Drum. Our Brian Dwyer has the latest on what that could mean for the 1,800 workers on Drum who expect to be missing part of their paycheck for the next seven weeks.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- We're hearing an announcement could come as soon as Monday. But all Army Vice Chief of Staff General John Campbell could say on his trip to Fort Drum was he is hopeful, but nothing is official.
Instead of 11 four-day work weeks and losing 20 percent of their paycheck, Department of Defense civilian workers, including 1,800 on Fort Drum, could be brought back early, missing only eight days or maybe even just five.
"We understand the impact and we do appreciate the value of our civilians and thank them for their dedication and their continued patience to stay with us at that," General Campbell said.
So what's different from two months ago? How can they do this now? General Campbell says a lot. Some reductions through Congress have saved $5 billion. There's also lower costs of operations overseas.
"Fuel prices have changed in Afghanistan. The number of things we have to bring back has been adjusted. So we worked very hard with TRANSCOM and with the folks in theatre to reduce that bill by $1.5 billion," Gen. Campbell added.
And what about soldiers themselves, who are facing their own job losses through budget cuts? That all depends on if Congress can finally agree on an overall spending plan. If not, that word sequestration, those automatic cuts that are a penalty for not having a plan, would certainly cut more soldier jobs. Cuts that General Campbell hears could be "well below" the 490,000 the Army is trying to get down to now.
"These would be the lowest levels of Army since pre-1940," he said.
At that time, the Army had just 269,000 soldiers. It hasn't been under 480,000 since. It reached of peak of more than eight million in 1945.
Friday marked the fourth week civilian employees have lost a day of work and that 20 percent in their paychecks.