Whiteman Air Force Base braces for budget cutbacks

WHITEMAN AIR BASE - With a little more than two weeks to go until spending cuts associated with the so-called sequester are set to take effect, officials at Whiteman Air Force Base are bracing for the worst, and taking their own steps to cut spending now.

Three weeks ago, the base began its own series of cutbacks designed to spare further pain later.

Among the steps taken by leaders here were cutting back on flight training time by ten percent, freezing all civilian hiring and restricting non-essential travel.

A base spokesman said implementation of the $500 billion in military spending cuts in the sequester could cause more draconian cutbacks to flight hours and other base services.

Civilian employees on the base, in interviews around Knob Noster on Tuesday, said they were most concerned about possible temporary furloughs, which could be required for any of the base's more than 2000 civilian employees, and would lead to fewer hours worked and smaller paychecks.

To avert the cuts, congress must act prior to a self-imposed March 1 deadline, designed as part of a 2011 debt deal between the two parties.

In Knob Noster, business owner Carol Smith said she was waiting to see what, if anything, Congress might do to stop the cuts and potential furloughs, and their possible effects on her florist shop.

"I would hope that a deep cut wouldn't be felt, but you never know, it depends on how many people do have to go on furlough," Smith said.

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