Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told a Senate panel Tuesday that the budget cuts associated with sequestration would force the Army to extend the upcoming deployments for units heading to Afghanistan.
Service chiefs have tried to place specific details to sequestration and an extension of the continuing resolution. Both deadlines will be reached in March and Congress has had military leaders march up to Capitol Hill to ring the alarm bells of the effects these cuts will have on the U.S. military.
The service chiefs sat before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday and will do the same for the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday.
Odierno chose to highlight the effects on training. Odierno’s service is likely to take the biggest hit in sequestration, mostly because it’s the largest service in the military.
The Army’s top officer explained that the budget cuts will force his service to reduce training across the Army. The units headed to Afghanistan will receive the priority, meaning the next ones in line will suffer. That next rotation could be one of the last, if not the last to head to Afghanistan.
Odierno explained that given the choice he’d rather extend the deployments of the units currently deployed to Afghanistan rather than send soldiers into Afghanistan who are not prepared.
“We cannot fund the group that comes after them,” he told lawmakers. “So what that means is the initial replacements that go in at the beginning of 2014 are funded; those that would come in later in the year are not. And so it would take them much longer to be prepared, and so we will have to make a decision somewhere along the line to either extend those already there or send people that are not ready, and I choose not to send there that will not be ready.”
Military.com reporter Matt Cox wrote more on the subject from the Tuesday hearing here.