(WASHINGTON) -- Deep automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect on March 1 will greatly affect the Pentagon's civilian workforce, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday.
Appearing at a briefing with Pentagon Chief Financial Officer Robert Hale, Panetta said that virtually all of the department's 800,000 civilian employees will be furloughed starting in late April if sequester goes through in just over a week.
Panetta has been leading the charge against the first in the series of spending cuts to pare down the deficit, saying they will drastically undermine the effectiveness of the nation's security.
Hale was quick to add that the civilians would not be laid off, at least not during this fiscal year ending Sept. 30. However, he could not promise that the layoffs known as reductions in force (RIFs) won't take place after then if the sequester is allowed to continue without congressional action to stop it.
As of now, the plan is to furlough civilian employees at least one day a week beginning in late April -- a reduction in payroll of about $5 billion. In all, the Pentagon faces $46 billion in spending reductions by Sept. 30.
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