Government Shutdown: What It Means To National Security, Pentagon, US Embassies And Consulates

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  • US military personnel pose for a picture before the start of a ceremony marking the end of the U.S. military engagement, at the former US Sather Air Base
    This unit looks pretty cohesive.
  • US Military
    The United States' House Appropriations Committee on Monday released a $608 billion defense spending bill for fiscal 2013, providing some $88.5 billion in funding for the war in Afghanistan.
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As the federal government officially began shutting down after Congress failed to meet a midnight deadline at 12 a.m. EDT to agree on a short-term measure to continue government spending, President Barack Obama said that U.S. military operations around the world would continue and active-duty military personnel of the U.S. armed forces would be required to continue to report to work.

In a video message released to Defense Department personnel immediately after the shutdown began, Obama said threats to national security remain unchanged and that armed forces members need “to be ready for any contingency.”

“Those of you in uniform will remain on your normal-duty status … Ongoing military operations—like our efforts in Afghanistan—will continue,” Obama said. “Congress has passed, and I am signing into law, legislation to make sure you get your paychecks on time.”

“To all our DOD civilians: I know the days ahead could mean more uncertainty, including possible furloughs. And I know this comes on top of the furloughs that many of you already endured this summer,” Obama said. “You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we’re seeing in Congress. I’ll keep working to get Congress to reopen our government and get you back to work as soon as possible,” the president said.

A total of 1.4 million active military personnel of the Defense Department, along with necessary civilian members, are expected to continue to work during the shutdown, according to the Wall Street Journal. About 400,000 civilian employees of the Defense Department would face furloughs, according to the Journal, while the Pentagon is expected to partially freeze military contracts and department-funded domestic and overseas travel.

On Friday, the State Department said that some of its funds were not part of the annual appropriation bills, meaning it would continue to have funds to partially function during the shutdown.

“Departmental entities will continue to operate until their respective balances are insufficient to continue. While many appropriated funds expire after one year, the Department has some accounts that are two-year funds or no-year funds,” the State Department said in a notice.

“Consular operations domestically and overseas will remain 100 percent operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations,” the notice said.

Speaking about broader funding changes affecting the Defense Department, Obama said on Tuesday morning: “The war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan will end next year. After more than a decade of unprecedented operations, we are moving off a war footing.”

“Our military will be leaner, and as a nation we face difficult budget choices going forward. But here’s what I want you to know. I’m going to keep fighting to get rid of those across-the-board budget cuts—the sequester—which are hurting our military and our economy,” Obama said.

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