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Associated Press, Published July 06 2013

North Dakota National Guard prepares for staff furloughs

BISMARCK — The commander of the North Dakota National Guard said the impact of furloughs on roughly two-thirds of the state's full-time National Guard staff is unknown.

Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk said the furloughs caused by automatic federal budget cuts will begin Monday. Thousands of full-time National Guard staff across the nation will be required to work one less day a week through the end of September.

The military furloughs originally were to apply only to civilian personnel, but the Department of Defense in May added technicians to the list of those to be furloughed one day a week.

“We actually have over 600 technicians that the law will apply to,” Sprynczynatyk told the Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/14SPnQw ). "We still don't know the full impact."

The weekly day off results in a 20 percent loss of wages for 11 weeks for those subject to the furlough.

Sprynczynatyk said a major concern is the potential effect on the National Guard's readiness in the event of a need to mobilize for action overseas or to deal with an emergency or natural disaster in North Dakota.

“This is not something we've ever gone through before. To say the impact would be moderate would be appropriate,” the Guard commander said.

The cuts came after a year of discussion.

“Nobody, including myself, thought it would happen,” Sprynczynatyk said.

The impact could be minimized through scheduling. Sprynczynatyk said schedules for furloughed staff in North Dakota are set to minimize the number of people gone each day.

The original rule in place when the furloughs were announced called for all staff to take Monday off each week. That rule was later loosened to allow for staggered scheduling, Sprynczynatyk said.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com