by: Mark Winne Updated:COBB COUNTY, Ga. —
Channel 2 Action News has learned about 1,200 soldiers with the Georgia National Guard will receive a forced pay cut by the government.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne learned the soldiers and airmen will lose 20 percent of their pay because of automatic cuts from the government.
The cuts affect certain full-time guard and airmen.
"Bills, car notes, groceries. This will affect everybody," Staff Sgt. Jason Bahrett said.
Winne talked to Behret as they sat amid a group of affected Guard soldiers Monday
"I don't think anybody here is going to go through this easily at all," Bahrett said.
For almost 3 months, their pay will been cut by 20 percent, beginning in July.
"I think the dedication we have here, everyone will be here regardless of the sacrifice," Barrett said.
"Our folks will be ready. We'll always be there. We'll always be on target. But, we are definitely dealing with some serious challenges," said Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth of the Georgia National Guard.
A guard spokesman said about 1,200 full-time Georgia National Guard soldier and airmen face 11 furlough days over the next three months.
"These folks are the backbone of this organization," Butterworth said. "I would say there is a good argument that we are cutting into muscle."
Butterworth indicated budget issues have already resulted in a dramatic reduction, such as reduced flight time for the Georgia guard's main counterdrug chopper, the Lakota. The pay cut will cut into aircraft maintenance across the board, which means less flying since safety cannot be compromised.
"There will be no adverse effect on safety, we will make sure of that," Butterworth said.
He also suggested training is a key cut because of the pay cut.
"Georgia National Guard wants to be part of the solution and shoulder that part of the burden. But we certainly look forward to better solutions than putting that burden squarely on the backs of families," Butterworth said.
Butterworth indicated the Guard’s short term response to emergencies will not be compromised. Planning and strategy could take a direct hit though.
The Georgia National Guard has shouldered a big responsibility overseas in the war on terror since 9/11, but also responds to domestic situations ranging from the Boston bombing to natural disasters.