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In Reversal, Army Puts Hold on Family Program Cuts

Army family reunites
U.S. Army photo by Dennis Johnson.

The U.S. Army has put on indefinite hold planned cuts to family programs that were scheduled to start Oct. 1, top officials said Tuesday.

The "strategic pause" will give the Army time to reexamine plans to make sure that the cuts don't dip into programs and funding levels the service is required by regulation to maintain, Col. James Love, who oversees the programs for the Army's Installation Management Command, told Military.com.

"We did a strategic pause and we're going to do an analysis and reevaluation of what it is we're doing, and why we're doing it," he said. "Not [a] false alarm -- a little more prudent planning, a little more decision space."

The stop was ordered by Todd Weiler, the assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs who questioned the decision in a memorandum obtained by Stars and Stripes.

In that memo, Weiler asked why the Army was planning to make $105 million in cuts before funding levels for 2017 were approved by Congress. The service, he wrote, is required to fund "category B" activities, such as arts and crafts facilities, at 65 percent, but had failed to show his office that they are planning to do so.

Instead, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, who heads IMCOM, announced in a YouTube video that the Army would "have a little less money to put into our family Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs than we have in previous years." He said they would allow garrison commanders to make the final decisions on what programs were cut or required to become self-sustaining to stay open. The video has since been removed.

Love said that overall cuts strategy will still be in effect when changes are approved by the Pentagon.

In the meantime, he said, stopgap money to make up for the $105 million shortfall is being taken from planned facility improvements. Those projects will be put on hold only until a new version of the cut plan is back in play, he said.

Eventually the cuts, including those that were previously announced by installations under Dahl's earlier direction, will likely go forward, Love said.

"A pause is a pause. If they announced that they are going to cut, we're saying 'not so fast,'" he said. "In some cases some of the program changes were probably needed. As we did this analysis we found that we had not raised prices in some places in 10 years. That's just not good business. It's good for families, but it's not sustainable."

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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Army Family and Spouse