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Army plans $92 million in cuts at West Point

Feb. 20, 2013 - 09:00AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 20, 2013 - 09:00AM  |  
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Military Academy at West Point will take the biggest hit from planned Army budget cuts in New York.

The military academy has been targeted for $92 million of the $351 million in Pentagon money that will be slashed statewide when across-the-board federal "sequestration" cuts take effect March 1.

Construction of a new dormitory to house 650 cadets will be postponed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a request for proposals to build the $170 million dormitory late last year, but a contract has not yet been awarded.

The dormitory would be the first new one at West Point since 1965 and the first since the academy opened its doors to women. Women comprise 18 percent of the cadet corps.

Nationwide, the sequestration cuts will trim $85 billion from defense and non-defense programs between March 1 and the end of fiscal 2013 on Sept. 30, unless Congress and the White House reach a deal to delay them or replace them with a less drastic plan to reduce the deficit.

The cuts were included in a 2011 budget agreement as a way to achieve deficit reduction if the White House and Congress failed to agree on a deal. The original deadline of Dec. 31 was postponed to March 1 when Congress and the administration reached a deal on tax cuts but not on spending.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday that President Obama believes the cuts still can be averted if congressional Republicans will agree to a balanced approach that includes some revenue measures.

"There is no reason for it to happen," Carney said. "Congress has it within its power, Republicans have it within their power, to agree to the basic principle that we should buy down the sequester for a certain amount of time to allow Congress to then move forward with broader deficit reduction through the budget process."

In the meantime, various federal agencies have been preparing for the sequester to take effect.

The Army estimates its cuts will affect more than 300,000 jobs nationwide and have a $15 billion economic impact, according to a summary document obtained by USA TODAY.

In New York, the Army National Guard's Camp Smith training facility in Cortlandt Manor not far from West Point would see a $3.1 million cut.

Fort Drum in the North Country near Watertown faces $38 million in cuts, and Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn another $2 million.

Defense contractors facing Army funding cuts include Moog Inc. in East Aurora, near Buffalo, and SRC in Syracuse.

An estimated 251,000 civilian Army employees will face temporary unpaid furloughs, according to the House Appropriations Committee's Democratic staff. Another 1,300 temporary employees will be terminated. The Army also will implement a hiring freeze.

The Navy plans to furlough most of its civilian employees for 22 work days and to lay off 400 employees in the Naval Reactors program, which includes facilities in New York's Saratoga County and three other states.

The Air Force plans an 18 percent reduction in flying hours. In New York, an estimated 2,268 Air Force civilian workers face furloughs.

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