The furloughs, which began Monday, call for about 700,000 Pentagon civilians to take unpaid leave once a week for 11 weeks.
Department officials say furloughs were prompted by sequestration, a mechanism in the 2011 Budget Control Act that forced a $500 billion Pentagon budget cut over the next decade after lawmakers failed to agree on how to resolve a $1.3 trillion deficit.
In coming days, Pentagon officials will submit to lawmakers an analysis of sequestration’s impact on the Defense Department’s 2014 budget, which employees fear could spark more furloughs and possible layoffs.
“The secretary [of defense] has been clear that he would like for there to be a deal on sequestration so that we can lift this burden off all our employees and the department,” Mr. Little said. “It’s unfortunate that we’re in this period, but we’re going to muscle through it the best we can.”