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As government shutdown looms, Pentagon readies to shutter offices, troops to keep fighting without pay

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis speaks with members of the press at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 5, 2018. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)
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The Pentagon prepared Friday to shutter offices and activities unrelated to critical national security duties as the deadline for a government shutdown looms at midnight.

Troops will continue to fight, but they will not be paid unless an agreement on government spending is reached. Defense Department civilian employees involved in essential missions will also remain unpaid but on the job.

“The department will, of course, continue to prosecute the war in Afghanistan and ongoing operations against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, including preparation of forces for deployment into those conflicts,” Patrick Shanahan, the deputy Defense Secretary, wrote in a memo released Friday. “The Department must, as well, continue many other operations necessary for the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

Shanahan’s memo included eight pages of guidance to the military services on duties that qualify as essential. Among them: military operations and the command, control and intelligence gathering functions required for national security. Recruiting also makes the list of essential functions, as do law enforcement, fire protection and counseling for suicide and sexual assault victims.

The lack of funding will close virtually every other daily function in the military, from payment of “death gratuities” to the families of fallen troops to the elective surgery.

At a speech unveiling the Trump administration’s national security strategy on Friday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said “no enemy in the field has done more harm” to the U.S. military than the failure to provide the Pentagon with steady funding.

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© 2018 USA Today

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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