Government shutdown: Marine Corps Base Hawaii adjusts to closures, changes
By Kristen Wong
| Marine Corps Base Hawaii | October 04, 2013
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Pay Our Military Act
President Barack Obama
On Oct. 1, the Federal government shut down, affecting nearly 800,000 federal workers. A large portion of the 1,500 civilian employees aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii have been furloughed.
The shutdown is due to the dispute in Congress over a spending priority controversy.
Each year, the House of Representatives and the Senate must agree on multiple appropriation bills to fund the federal government. In recent years, Congress has enforced a stopgap on budgets, temporarily delaying the financial dispute. The stopgap ended Sept. 30, 2013.
Now, the House and the Senate are at a budgetary impasse.
Active-duty service members are protected from the shutdown because of the Pay Our Military Act signed by President Barack Obama Sept. 30. Military personnel are reporting to paid duty as usual.
Marine Corps Community Services is closing many of the services it provides Marine Corps Base Hawaii, including education and athletics.
“This is something that is going on at the federal level in Washington D.C.,” said Col. Brian P. Annichiarico, commanding officer of MCB Hawaii. “At the local level, we are doing everything we can to mitigate any detriment to services we can. The civilians are a part of the critical Navy-Marine Corps team here. They provide a vital role and they are sorely missed.”
The last time the U.S. experienced a government shutdown was 17 years ago. Leadership aboard MCB Hawaii reviewed the impact of the previous shutdown to prepare for future issues that could arise in the event that another took place.
As a result, workarounds were created to ensure Marines could maintain the highest level of combat readiness possible, according to Annichiarico. A workaround is a temporary solution to a problem that still needs a definite resolution.
“With those employees furloughed, the work they would normally be doing comes to a screeching halt, that’s the main effect on MCB Hawaii,” Annichiarico said. “We are trying to not let it affect our combat readiness.”
Annichiarico said that the Marines are taking care of the shooting ranges, and contractors not affected by the shutdown are running the training simulators.
“We are trying to have as minimal impact as we can,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be a detriment to the quality of life on the base.”
In a statement from the White House, Obama addressed those affected by the furlough directly, stating they, and their families, “are at the front of my mind.”
“You have endured three years of Federal pay freeze, harmful sequester cuts, and now, a shutdown of our government,” he said. “And yet, you persevere, continuing to serve the American people with passion, professionalism and skill.”
United States Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel said although the shutdown will take a toll on the military and its readiness, citizens do not need to worry about national security.
“We’re still living under the dark cloud of uncertainty, not knowing what is going to happen,” Hagel said in a press conference in Seoul, South Korea.
“(Americans) should not be concerned that their security is now in jeopardy; it is not and will not be. We will find a new center of gravity of governing in the United States of America. I think we are seeing an evolving new coalition of governance start to appear.
“I do have confidence in our country,” he added. “I do have confidence in our people … (and) almost uniquely American self-correction process. We can fix our own problems, and we always have.”
The Marines and sailors of MCB Hawaii will continue their effort for combat readiness under the conditions the shutdown has left the base, Annichiarico said.
“The civilians (who) work on the base are part of the Marine Corps team and to see them get furloughed actually pains me because of the important work they do here,” Annichiarico said. “They are every bit a part of this team. I am not happy to see the government shut down in any way, shape or form. I just hope our politicians can come to an agreement as soon as possible.”