South Carolina National Guard is bracing for the effects of Department of Defense budget cuts on readiness, employees, and Guard families. The Defense Department proposes that the South Carolina Guards part in sequestration cuts amount to 1,000 technicians taking a 22 day furlough-amounting to about $7.9 million.
The Adjutant General of South Carolina, Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr. says if sequestration takes effect, half of the budget cuts target the defense department. He says the Guard will have cut everything by about 12 percent, which includes civilian technicians, and dual status technicians.
“We will immediately see, or very quickly see, a degradation in our equipment availability, especially our aircraft,” says Livingston.
Livingston said sequestration will degrade the readiness of the National Guard with its ability to train and support not only federal missions, but also to train for domestic emergencies of all types.
He says cuts will also cause problems with projects that the Guard has already committed money to.
“We’re talking about construction type projects and things like that. And as sequestration comes into effect we’re going to have to make sure that we don’t overstend the moneys that we have allocated,” says Livingston.
Livingston says he has some mixed feelings about the defense budget being wrapped up in politics, but he does say he believes the greatest threat to the nation is the debt.
“I certainly expect the Defense Department and the National Guard to see a tightening of the belt. And we need to do that,” says Livingston.
The full-time S.C. National Guard force across the state is about 1,800 with a total force of about 10,000. This includes more than 800 Active-Guard Reserve component employees.
Livingston plans to meet with Guard employee representatives this week to discuss the implementation of any mandates that come from the Department of Defense under sequestration and ways to minimize the impacts on employees.
SCRN’s Tripp Girardeau contributed to this article.