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SD National Guard prepares for sequestration furloughs

RAPID CITY (AP) -- More than half of South Dakota National Guard employees will be affected by furloughs beginning next month, the military said.

The Rapid City Journal reports the furlough will require certain National Guard employees to take 11 unpaid days off from Aug. 2 to Sept. 30.

Terry Ommen, a Guard spokesman, said employees impacted by the furlough would lose nearly $4,200 in earnings, or 20 percent of their annual paycheck.

The Guard said 540 full-time employees out of 958 in the South Dakota National Guard are affected by the budget cuts.

"They work in our maintenance facilities," Ommen said. "They're also budget analysts. They hold key staff positions. They could be an administrator."

The furlough is a part of the government sequestration that was invoked to reduce the federal budget deficit, Ommen said. The federal government plans to cut the budget by $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years.

The 370 soldiers and airmen in the South Dakota National Guard force will not be impacted by the furlough, Ommen said. Traditional Guard service members who drill one weekend a month and two weeks a year also won't be affected, he said.

Tim Reisch, the Guard's adjutant general, said employees affected by the furlough play an important role, organizing and training soldiers and airmen and maintaining equipment across the state.

"I am very concerned about the impact to our troops and to the readiness of our units," Reisch said.

Ommen said that in the event of an emergency, the Guard is able to call employees back to work. He said the Guard would do everything it can during the furlough to make sure everything runs smoothly.

"We'll work with the supervisors and employees so we can try and maintain a level of readiness," Ommen said.

Most employees will take their furlough days on Fridays during the furlough, Ommen said.

"It will allow employees to pick up a part-time job and work Friday, Saturday, Sunday and maybe even a Monday," Omen said.