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Sequester: The Military Girds for a Blow

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Washington's latest game of financial chicken threatens to trigger huge cuts for the Pentagon. Here are the top 10 states on the hit list.

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Are you ready for the sequester? This latest post-fiscal cliff political game of chicken over the federal budget could go into effect on March 1, unless some sort of congressional compromise is reached.

As Caitlin Dickson at the Daily Beast puts it, the sequester "is the trade-off for the tax hikes the cliff deal avoided: a collection of across-the-board budget cuts adding up to about $1.2 trillion over 10 years. It's a manufactured political crisis, basically, and everyone shares some blame for it."

If the sequester happens -- and that's still a pretty large "if" -- about half of those cuts will come from the US military. The Pentagon could find its budget slashed by $500 billion, which would not only have direct and a relatively immediate impact on the war in Afghanistan but also on defense industry contractors and, of course, jobs directly and indirectly linked to the Department of Defense.

"Cuts to spending for the acquisition of military equipment alone would lead the loss of over 1,000,000 private sector jobs," warns the US House Armed Services Committee website. "These cuts could push unemployment back up to 9%."

The website adds that more than 350,000 of the Pentagon's active-duty military and civilian personnel could also find themselves out of work.

The US Army recently released a document forecasting how cuts to its branch alone would affect more than 302,000 jobs across the nation -- with an economic impact of $15.35 billion.

The Washington Business Journal went through the Army's data and tallied up what each state potentially stands to lose in terms of economic impact and job cuts. Here's the top 10 list:

Alabama -- Economic loss: $1.9 billion, jobs affected: 25,177.

Arizona -- Economic loss: $262 million, jobs affected: 5,063.

California -- Economic loss: $615 million, jobs affected: 11,432.

Georgia -- Economic loss: $931 million, jobs affected: 17,163.

Hawaii -- Economic loss: $287 million, jobs affected: 8,499.

Kentucky -- Economic loss: $606 million, jobs affected: 15,016.

Maryland -- Economic loss: $527 million, jobs affected: 23,243.

Texas -- Economic loss: $2.4 billion, jobs affected: 34,734.

Virginia -- Economic loss: $1 billion, jobs affected: 25,360.

Washington -- Economic loss: $461 million, jobs affected: 11,047.

The Army says it's preparing for any near-future budget reductions by cutting its contracted workforce, using attrition to lower the number of temporary and short-term employees, implementing a hiring freeze, "diverting" funds for facility restoration and modernization, and by reducing base operation support levels.

Editor's Note: This story by Bruce Kennedy was originally published on MSN moneyNOW.

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