By the end of April, the Pentagon will be devoting less attention and fewer staff to network security under spending cuts set for Friday, according to budget analysts.
Mandatory, across-the-board decreases in funding will spare the salaries of uniformed Cyber Command members, but many of those personnel will be focused on sequester planning rather than operations. Meanwhile, their civilian peers face furloughs. Defense Department officials must reduce every program’s budget by about 8 percent.
"That workload is going to detract from the actual mission work because you know jobs are at stake. Incomes are at stake," said Todd Harrison, senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Certain contractors will be let go and civilians will be furloughed for one day a week starting mid-April through the end of September, under the 2011 Budget Control Act that resolved a debt-ceiling crisis. The skeletal programming could continue through 2014 because the $10 billion slashing each year won’t sunset without new legislation.
Harrison said he would not rule out the possibility of long-term axe wielding. "I would call it a worst case scenario," he said. The sequester starting on Friday "was put in place as an unthinkable," but it is now likely, he said. "Now, this 2014 unthinkable [scenario] -- we have to start thinking about it."