Responding to direction from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to prepare for the possibility of severe budget reductions this year, the Military Services have ordered a series of preemptive budgetary actions to reduce the rate of spending.

Panetta directed the military services and defense components to take “prudent measures” to ensure that they are able to accomplish core missions if forced to operate under a year-long continuing resolution for the entire FY2013.  He also directed them to develop plans to implement civilian unpaid furloughs as a precautionary measure if sequestration goes into effect.

The Military Services acted quickly to this direction and ordered components to freeze hiring, terminate non-critical temporary employees, and reduce non-essential spending.  In all cases the Services said actions taken should be designed to be reversible, if budgetary conditions change

The Army announced that Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Ordierno issued a memo setting out some 15 actions to reduce the rate of spending.  These actions include: reducing base operations support in FY2013 to 30 percent of the FY2012 level; curtailing non-essential training activities (not related to Operation Enduring Freedom, the Korean forward-deployed units, Homeland Defense and the Division Ready Brigade) and cutting non-mission essential conference attendance and professional training.  The Army memo also called for stopping facility sustainment activities not “directly connected to matters of life, health, or safety.”  McHugh directed that any of these actions should not effect wartime operations and “Wounded Warrior” programs.

The Navy directed its components to reduce administrative contract support services, cut travel and base operating support, and reduce information technology and other administrative spending.  Navy also ordered a delay in decommissionings, disposals, or layups, a decrease in facility sustainment (exceptions for safety of life) and modernization programs, and the cancelation of facilities demolition.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley described the actions the Air Force would take in response to the budgetary uncertainly.  In addition to freezing hiring and releasing non-mission critical temporary employees, the Air Force will curtail non-readiness or mission-essential flying and travel, reduce or cut non-essential minor purchases, and defer non-emergency facility sustainment, restoration, and modernization.

Each Service will also plan for future furloughs if necessary, but made it clear that they would act only at DoD direction.