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Civilian 122nd employee furlough time shortened

Friday, April 5, 2013 - 12:01 am

The amount of time that about 200 Fort Wayne-based Air National Guard workers will be idled has been reduced from 22 to 14 days.

Some of the civilian technicians started getting official notice in mid-March that the federal government plans to idle them one day a week as part of the “sequester” spending cuts. The furlough plan is slated to begin in mid- to late April.

On Thursday, Master Sgt. Darin Hubble, a spokesman for the 122nd Fighter Wing, said that the furlough time has been diminished.

The cuts are part of a Department of Defense spending plan that originally would have switched the 122nd from A-10 combat planes to MC-12 reconnaissance aircraft, cutting up to 150 local jobs. Area politicians and Indiana National Guard officials fought for a year to stave off that plan. In January, President Obama signed a revised spending bill that avoided the cuts.

The local guard unit is also keeping an eye on the future of its STARBASE. An amendment to the defense department was left out that would have eliminated the defense department's science, technology, engineering and math program at the 122nd and on 75 other military bases. However, currently the program doesn't have a funding source. The Guard unit is watching if the Department of Education or other entity takes over the program, Hubble said. The local STARBASE, which offers a hands-on learning experience for area students, opened last year.

While many things are up in the air, one thing is for sure: the base is gearing up for a mass inspection, the largest in its history, Hubble said. He likened it to a hotdog stand being converged on by the FDA, IRS, State Department and other groups, all at the same time. Instead of one division being eyed, the whole base will be inspected. It will also be the first unit to have a virtual inspection as it's inspected off-site through documentation.