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Military bases furlough at least 2,000 due to federal shutdown

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GLENDALE – At least 2,000 employees at Arizona military bases were furloughed Tuesday due to the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein, commander of Luke Air Force Base here, said the base can go a day without its more than 400 furloughed civilian employees but added that prolonged furloughs would hurt the facility’s long-term health.

“I am under no illusion that we can continue to operate business as normal without our valued civilians,” he said.

Furloughed civilian workers range from mechanics to administrators to civil engineers, Rothstein said.

As a result of the furloughs, Luke will close or reduce the hours of certain services, he said, adding that the base will offer only basic medical services.

Rothstein said he has been ordered to continue flight training.

“The mission of Luke Air Force Base is to train the world’s best F-16 pilots, and we’re going to continue to do that through this period until I get further guidance from my higher headquarters,” he said.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson furloughed more than 1,600 civilian employees, Staff Sgt. Angela Ruiz, a spokeswoman, said in an email.

The government shutdown won’t affect more than 1,700 other civilians employees at the base, she said.

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma furloughed 176 employees, according to a Marine Corps news release from Camp Pendleton, Calif.

In a separate news release, Lt. Col. Glen Lindstrom, the station’s executive officer, said flight operations will continue during the shutdown but added that civilians are still necessary.

“Every employee, Marine or civilian, is vital to our workforce, and we regret the angst that this uncertainty brings to our employees, their families and our service members,” he said.

While the airfield will remain open, the base will be without services like its youth activity center, and the commissary is to close from Wednesday until the shutdown is resolved, according to its Facebook page.

At Fort Huachuca, a southeastern Arizona base where Army tests sensitive electronics, a spokeswoman declined to disclose the number of furloughed employees.

The furloughs won’t significantly affect Arizona’s economy, said Elliott Pollack, CEO of Elliott D. Pollack & Co., a Scottsdale-based an economic and real estate consulting firm.

“It would have to last quite awhile before it affected things quite dramatically,” he said, adding he doesn’t expect the federal budget impasse to last long.