By Catalina Lehmann
“What keeps me up at night is that if I am asked to deploy 20,000 soldiers somewhere, I am not sure I can guarantee that they are trained to a level that I think they should be over the next two or three years because of the way sequestration is being enacted, and that’s really of a concern for me,” Odierno said when asked about his greatest concern regarding sequestration.
The sequester, a series of mandatory, across-the-board spending cuts that took effect on March 1, will reduce the Pentagon’s budget by about $85 billion this year.
Odierno said that sequestration is taking a toll on training new Army recruits.
“Yes we’ll still send soldiers. Yes, we’ll be able to train them to a lower level and they’ll be individually ready, but they will not have been able to train collectively, the way we would like,” he said. “That means operations will take longer, but most importantly it probably equals more casualties.”
Odierno added that the Army is faced with problems when recruiting 18-24 year olds because the men do not meet the requirements needed to serve — a high school diploma and sufficient physical fitness.
“The problem we have is not the propensity to serve, he said. “The problem we have is, are they qualified to meet our requirements to serve?”
“What we’re finding is that about 23 percent are qualified to come in to serve.”