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Civilian Hiring Freeze Instituted: Air Force senior leaders have directed a force-wide civilian hiring freeze, announced service officials on Thursday. Commanders were also directed to release temporary employees and not renew term employees, states the Air Force's Jan. 17 release. These are among the immediate steps that the leadership is taking to reduce the service's expenditure rate and protect core readiness functions given the looming possibility of budget sequestration and funding shortfalls. The leadership outlined these reversible and recoverable moves in a Jan. 16 memorandum sent to the heads of the major commands. "These are uncharted waters concerning the federal budget and the effect it will have on the Air Force," wrote Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, the service's manpower and personnel chief, in the memo, according to the release. "It is imperative we work closely together to balance mission needs and minimize impacts to our dedicated civilian employees and their families," he added. Civilian pay makes up a large share of the Air Force's operating budget, plus service officials already project a $1.8 billion shortfall for overseas contingency operations in this fiscal year, states the release. (Washington, D.C., report by SSgt. David Salanitri)