WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 12, 2013) -- Secretary of the Army John McHugh again warned that sequestration continues to threaten military readiness.

"The furlough will have a degrading effect on the readiness of the Guard. That's inescapable," said McHugh.

He spoke during a visit to the District of Columbia National Guard, July 12, 2013, after meeting with the D.C. Guard's commander, Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz.

National Guard "dual-status" technicians are being furloughed. These are civilian employees who wear their military uniform to work on a daily basis.

Furloughs are affecting every unit, camp, post and station, both here and abroad, McHugh said, indicating that the impact is severe on the Guard and also the active component and Army Reserve.

McHugh expressed his admiration for the dedication of the men and women of the Guard, who continue to march despite the furlough.

"They're focused on mission, proud of contributions to team efforts," he said. "These great leaders are working to meet those challenges and mission will go forward and challenges will be met effectively."

Over the last decade of wartime service, the Guard has "stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the active component doing incredibly effective work," he continued.

McHugh also met with the District of Columbia's mayor's office, police, fire and rescue and other government officials, July 12.

He said the Guard has established a "great partnership" with these organizations and that some members of those organizations are themselves National Guard Soldiers.

The D.C. Guard has been an active and effective participant in everything from the presidential inauguration to the July 4th celebrations, he added, but their illustrious history extends back to the founding of the United States.

He visited the D.C. Guard Museum in the basement of the armory, where uniforms and weapons of Guardsmen were on display dating from the Revolutionary War. He also toured the Guard's interactive learning center and its motor pool, meeting with Guard Soldiers and Airmen and speaking to them one-on-one.

The secretary of the Army has a particularly unique role to play in the D.C. Guard, as it is the only National Guard command he has been authorized by the president to mobilize when required. Most recently, he authorized the mobilization of D.C. Guard troops in October during Hurricane Sandy, which impacted surrounding areas.