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New Arsenal commander ready to tangle with furloughs

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As Brigadier General Kristin French becomes the first woman to lead the Joint Munitions Command, many faces in the crowd are ready for another transition.

Some 700 civilians from JMC will lose 20% of their salaries this summer. Their first of 11 furlough days will be Friday, July 12.

"They're doing a great job with understanding that this has been a decision made for the short term," she said. "We'll do our best to get through this timeline."

Federal furloughs affect just about everybody at the Rock Island Arsenal, from the factory to First Army. The lowest grade to the highest supervisor will miss work because of congressional inaction. That takes a toll on local staffers.

"They have financial obligations like all of us do," said Sam Kupresin, a local business owner and Army adviser. "It's certainly a worry."

These are different times for this change of command. With federal furloughs beginning the week after Independence Day, it creates more obstacles for Arsenal work.

Arsenal furloughs will continue into September. Some workers are worrying about making ends meet.

"It's not just going to be skipping a meal and not eating out," said Steve Beck, president of AFGE 15. "It's going to be something where people are going to have to look at cutting back on a lot of things."

It's a tough situation for the new JMC commander. She's preparing to support its mission to supply ammunition while also backing its staff.

"We're trying to address it with each of our different sites and supporting all of the local workforce," she said. "You have to look at each individual's case to make decisions based on their situation."

During this change of command, they aren't just faces in the crowd but families on furlough.