COLUMBUS, Miss. (WTVA) -- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta formally notified congress this week that the Pentagon plans to furlough civilian defense employees soon if U.S. budget cuts don't happen by March 1.
This means the 472 civilian workers at the Columbus Air Force Base could be facing some challenges ahead.
"The general feel right now is one of uncertainty as we go forward with what is prudent planning for what may happen. None of the planning we are doing at this point is irreversible - everything can could change. And nothing will change right on the first of March. However, we have to plan and allow those valued members of our team here to plan that uncertainty as we go forward," said Colonel Jim Sears.
The furlough is unpaid leave, which will essentially cut the pay of the majority of civilian employees by 20 percent.
That would save approximately 5-billion dollars.
The sequestration could hit Columbus Air Force Base pretty hard.
"They're a very important part, nearly a quarter of our workforce here is civilian. So this impact will be felt beyond just the civilian workforce at Columbus Air Force Base, but also in our uniform personnel as we continue to execute the mission of producing pilots for the United States Air Force," said Sears.
Sequestration, or across-the-board spending cuts, are due to take effect on March first.
"We're very concerned about the morale and the effectiveness of our civilian workforce. And as we furlough and reduce the hours they work, that will put addition strain on our uniform members here as well," added Sears.
Colonel Sears added that they will have to find ways throughout the summer, and the rest of the fiscal year, to conduct their mission without reducing their mission at the same time.