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Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 10:08am

'Cliff' Deal Could Be Worse For Military

Military towns across Georgia are breathing a sigh of relief, as automatic federal spending cuts that would have resulted in a sudden drop in defense funding are postponed for 60 days under the deal lawmakers struck Tuesday night.

But bases and their host communities could still be devastated by automatic federal spending cuts, said Robert McMahon, the recently-retired top general at Robins Air Force Base.

"What I’m concerned about is the fact that all we’ve simply done is kick the sequestration discussion down the road about two months," McMahon said. "And if we don’t resolve that issue, the impact of that to the base and to our military will be significant."

The compromise measure could actually make things worse for military communities in the long term, McMahon said.

The Pentagon was already going to have to cram a year’s worth of cuts into nine months, because the fiscal year started back in October; If Washington can't reach a deal on spending, here's how McMahon sees the rest of the year playing out:

"Although we get a 60 day reprieve, if we don’t solve this issue – and I don’t see anything indicating today that everyone’s gathered together to work the issue – then what we’ve done is condensed a year’s worth of cuts into only seven months," McMahon said.

McMahon now heads a non-profit that advocates for the base and, by extension, the large community of military contractors in Middle Georgia. He predicts sequestration would result in near-immediate furloughs of civilian employees, with more permanent staff reductions soon to follow.

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