Army Chief on budget cuts: "I can't train 80% of my units"

Gen. Ray Odierno on "CBS This Morning."
Gen. Ray Odierno on "CBS This Morning."

(CBS News) Congressional leaders from both parties will meet with President Obama Friday but there is little sign an agreement will be reached to avoid the heavy, automatic spending cuts known as the sequester. The first round of the $85.3 billion in cuts are widely expected to take effect by midnight Friday.

On Thursday, lawmakers held consecutive votes in a last-ditch effort to avoid billions in sweeping spending cuts, but as expected, both bills were voted down.

The anticipated cuts to the military budget will be the largest in nearly 30 years and $46 billion will be slashed from the Pentagon's operating budget alone. Earlier in the week, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno gravely warned that should the cuts take effect, "our soldiers ... are the ones who will pay the price, potentially with their lives."

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Friday on "CBS This Morning," Odierno maintained his insistence that the cuts -- along with the haphazard day-to-day management of the military budget -- will "fall on the shoulders of our young men and women because they are not prepared the way the should be."

"We're not going to train for the rest of this year ... except those units who are getting ready to go to Afghanistan," Odierno said.

"What I'm worried about is next year. We might have to delay deploying people because they're not trained properly, or if we're asked to do a contingency somewhere around the world, we might not be trained properly."

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Odierno added that the Army is "short $18 billion" and struggles with routine budgeting, because they are operating on a continuing resolution -- or short-term legislation to fund government agents if a budget appropriations bill has not been passed -- as opposed to a budget.

"I do not have the authority to move money around in my budget," Odierno explained. "It's not only the sequester, it's the fact that we have a continuing resolution. I've been the chief of staff of the Army for 18 months. I've never had a budget. ... That limits us in what we can do in moving money around. It's a double problem that we have right now."

Touching on his previous claim that the Army's budget shortfall is the "greatest threat to our national security," Odierno stood by the statement, saying it will continue to be a serious threat "if we continue to not be able to have a plan."

"Right now we're furloughing 251,000 civilians, laying off about 8,000 people. I can't train 80 percent of my units. And I still haven't found enough money that will pay the bills in 2013."