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Monday, May 27, 2013
The Associated Press recently released an article entitled “Pentagon to furlough 680,000 civilian workers” (May15 brief).
The first line reads, “After weeks of debate and number-crunching, the Defense Department announced plans Tuesday [May 14] to furlough about 680,000 of its civilian employees for 11 days through the end of this fiscal year, allowing only limited exceptions for the military to avoid or reduce the unpaid days off.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in a memo to the department, called the decision “an unpleasant set of choices” between furloughing workers or cutting training and flight operations.
In the same memo, “I understand that the decision to impose furloughs imposes financial burdens on our valued employees, harms overall morale and corrodes the long-term ability of the department to carry out the national defense mission. I deeply regret this decision.”
Excuse me, but with the daily warnings of imminent doomsday, also known as sequestration, I am skeptical of such messages from Washington.
In September 2011, an internal Pentagon economic analysis projected a 1 percent increase in the national unemployment rate if the automatic “sequestration trigger” were to take effect. The national unemployment rate then was 8.8 percent; in March of this year, it was 7.6 percent, down by more than 1 percent.
But I was concerned. With 560,000 soldiers in uniform, the loss to furlough of almost 700,000 civilian employees even for a short time would be catastrophic for our defense. Further research revealed that the department had approximately 3 million employees, or more than 5 civilian employees for every soldier in uniform.
I was interested in exactly what types of jobs these were. I found that there is an agency called the Army Installation Management Command. This agency offers a wide variety of openings, but one in particular got my attention. In spite of the pending furloughs, you can still apply for a position as “assistant business manager (golf pro).”
What does the Army need with a golf pro? Well actually all branches of our military need more than just a few. Our military has 155 golf courses across the world. The four armed services have a total of six in Hawaii, and these are not nine-hole par threes either.
One is the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course. The following is taken from the course’s website, “Don’t miss the chance to play one of the world’s best military golf courses, consistently voted Number One by DoD patrons. The Kaneohe Klipper is an 18-hole championship golf course with separate driving range, chipping green and putting green. Experience this golfers’ paradise where the Ko’olau Mountains frame the front nine and the Pacific coastline spans the back nine. Enjoy the refreshing ocean breeze as it caresses beautifully manicured fairways. The Kaneohe Klipper Course offers a variety of additional services, including golf lessons, a Junior Golf Program and rental equipment. ADA compliant golf carts are also available.”
There is an afternoon special for Department of Defense civilian employees. For $39, Monday through Thursday, they can play as many holes as they can before dark, plus cart. After a round, players get a free selection off the Samuel Adams Sports Grill’s special menu, as well as a Coors Light draft or soft drink.
I doubt few of our enlisted personnel or entry-level civilian employees get the benefit of the Kanehoe Klipper Golf Course. So my question to Hagel is this: During those “weeks of debate and number crunching,” did you consider having the patrons of this world-class golf course buy their own beer?
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