U.S. military officials say the Defense Department leaders trying to find ways to deal with mandatory budget cuts are poised to trim the number of civilian furlough days from 14 to at least 11 and allow the military to exempt thousands of additional workers from the unpaid day off requirements.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to announce a decision on the hotly contested issue as early as this afternoon when he meets with defense department personnel in Virginia.

The Pentagon is expected to let the Navy avoid furloughs for tens of thousands of workers at shipyards, where they make up the bulk of the workforce and are key to keeping production lines going.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the decisions.

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