(CBS News) - Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno discussed the sequester cuts and how the cuts will reduce military training and preparedness on CBS This Morning.
Odierno tells co-hosts Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell: "Ultimately when we do these cuts, they fall on the shoulders of our young men and women because they're not prepared the way they should be"
Excerpts and video of the interview are below.
CHARLIE ROSE: The Army's Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno is blunt about the fallout from these cuts. He told Congress without the resources to train and equip his troops, "Our young men and women are the ones who will pay the price potentially with their lives." Gen. Odierno joins us now, thank you. What do you mean "will pay with their lives," because of these cuts?
GEN. RAY ODIERNO: What's happening is we have this – several things happening this year. Right now the army has an $18 billion shortfall in its, we call operation and maintenance accounts, which helps us conduct training, which helps us pay civilian personnel. What I'm trying to tell everyone is we're not going to be able to train anymore this year for the most part for those units except for those in Afghanistan, or getting ready to go to Afghanistan. So what I'm worried about is that 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. Ultimately when we do these cuts, they fall on the shoulders of our young men and women because they're not prepared the way they should be.
ROSE: Who determines the cuts that you have to make? Do you determine them? Can't you find cuts somewhere else?
ODIERNO: It has to do with certain accounts. So right now I'm short $18 billion in all accounts. Because we have a continuing resolution, I do not have the authority to move money around in my budget. So it's not only the sequester, it's the fact that we've had a continuing resolution. I've been the Chief of Staff of the Army for 18 months and I've never had a budget. We've always had a continuing resolution. That limits us in what we can do in moving money around. So it's like a double problem that we have right now. So we need predictability in the budget cycle and we need to make sure that the cuts we get are managed appropriately so we can put a plan together so we can protect our soldiers, so they can do the job we're asking them to do.
O'DONNELL: Gen. Odierno, you and I have known each other for a long time so I feel like I can ask you some tough questions. You have called this fiscal uncertainty the greatest threat to our national security. Really? Greater than al-Qaeda? Greater than cyber warfare?
ODIERNO: The bottom line is, if we continue to not be able to have a plan – you know, we're supposed to build a five-year plan for our budget, I can't do that right now, because we keep going through continuing resolutions. We have no certainty in what our money is going to be, so we're wasteful, we're inefficient, and we could become more ineffective with our dollars. And I think people watch this and wonder what are we doing?
O'DONNELL: We have heard from Congress though, Congressman Duncan Hunter, of accusing the Defense Department of adding drama to this whole debate. What's your response to that?
ODIERNO: What I would say to that is right now I got a briefing last week on our cuts and I have to come up with the money and I can't find it yet. I haven't found it all yet. Right now we're furloughing 251,000 civilians, we're laying off about 8,000 people, I can't train 80 percent of my units. And I still haven't found enough money yet that will pay the bills in ‘13.
O'DONNELL: General, some people will say, you can't find the money in the entire defense budget? It's a huge budget.
ODIERNO: I can't do it. See again, I'm telling you, the money is fenced. And the continuing resolution doesn't allow us to move money around. And sequester by the way is directed cuts, we have no say in where those cuts come in fiscal year ‘13. They are directed, every line item within your budget.
ROSE: Will the Pentagon be different under Chuck Hagel?
ODIERNO: I don't know. I mean, I think – we're going to meet with Secretary Hagel this afternoon. I look forward to that. He had a chance to talk to us earlier in the week. He's very excited about being in the job and I look forward to working with him.
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