An integrated team in the face of federal furloughs

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Rear Adm. Frank Ponds

Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

When Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited here two weeks ago this is one of the first and most important points he made: He saw a tight, integrated team of uniformed service members and civilians here in Hawaii.

He also addressed the important job our team has here “centered in Asia-Pacific,” recognizing the opportunities here despite the challenges of tough fiscal times.

Foremost of those challenges is the “historic shortfall” caused by sequestration. Secretary Hagel spoke of how the services have significantly reduced facilities maintenance, shifted funds where possible, and significantly reduced maintenance of non-deployed forces. Still, these initiatives were not enough to close the shortfall.

Our senior-most Navy leaders have continued to try to find offsets.

CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert and CNIC Vice Adm. William French have kept us apprised and spoken with passion about the importance of the civilian members of our team.

Speaking for Region and MIDPAC, I can tell you that those of us who wear the uniform have great respect and admiration for our hardworking, always-dedicated civilian staff.

Of course, words are often not sufficient in times like these. But they are always heartfelt and sincere.

Notices of the proposed furlough have been issued. Most DoD civilian employees at the Joint Base and Barking Sands have received their notices and are facing a 20 percent reduction in their pay from July until the end of the fiscal year.

The fact is – our civilian colleagues are more than just members of our team. They are part of our family, part of our ohana.

To those of you personally affected, I recognize the impact this will have on you and your individual families. It doesn’t seem fair, especially in consideration of all you give, all you contribute in our important mission here. I also know you will stay focused on our mission and the vital work we do together. It’s in your DNA. Finally, I pledge that you will be kept informed and updated with information and resources as soon as they become available.

Thank you for all you do, all you have done, and all you will do now and in the years ahead.

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Category: News