WASHINGTON - The US government shutdown had no drastic effect on the military Tuesday but if it remains in place everything from ship repairs to combat training will be disrupted, officials say.
With about half the Pentagon's 800,000 civilian employees placed on unpaid leave, defence officials said the military will soon face a headache trying to make do with less civilian manpower under the shutdown.
"There's going to be an impact, but it will take some time to feel the effect," said a senior military officer.
The furloughs mean that "real work doesn't get done," said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Much of the Defence Department's civilian workforce are employed at bases across the country, and the military relies on them to keep equipment running and logistical networks humming.
If the shutdown drags on for weeks, planned work at shipyards and aircraft depots will have to be put off, routine administration will be neglected and some units will have to forgo training unless it is directly related to critical operations, officials said.
The shutdown came after a political impasse with Republicans in Congress tying funding for the new fiscal year to suspending or dismantling President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Obama's fellow Democrats in the Senate rejected the move and money for government operations ran out at midnight on Monday.
At the eleventh hour, Congress adopted a measure to ensure troops would get paid through the shutdown, and the Pentagon has made clear that no military operations would be affected, including the war effort in Afghanistan.