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Beginning on July 8, most Defense Department civilian personnel will face as many as 11 days of furloughs for the remainder of the fiscal year, announced Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday. Speaking to DOD employees during a town hall meeting in Alexandria, Va., Hagel said he based this decision on "fairness" to employees after conducting an "extensive review" of all available options. "I have made this decision very reluctantly because I know that furloughs will disrupt lives and impact DOD operations," he said in a statement released after the May 14 town hall. "I recognize the significant hardship this places on you and your families." Employees will be asked to take one furlough day per week, or two per pay period. Some "essential" civilian personnel will be exempt, such as those on temporary assignment to a combat zone, said Hagel. He told the town hall it's possible officials might be able to "knock back" the total number of furlough days after they get "through the front end." However, he did not make any promises. Initially, Pentagon officials anticipated that most of DOD's 800,000 civilian employees around the country would have to stand down for up to 22 days through September. (See also Hagel's memorandum on furloughs and background briefing transcript.)