According to US Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno, sequestration is preventing the United States from conducting its defense drawdown sensibly. In a discussion at AEI on Monday morning, General Odierno warned that sequestration is taxing the Army’s readiness to the point that should an unforeseen crisis arise, soldiers may rush into battle unprepared, which could make conflict more likely by undermining deterrence and increasing the number of casualties should fighting break out.
General Odierno drew parallels to the Korean War, which caused thousands of unnecessary deaths in part because the post-World War II drawdown left the Army unprepared for major combat operations. According to the Chief, it took nearly a year for the Army to recover its readiness in the heat of combat in Korea — a lesson that cannot be overlooked and should not be repeated today. He concluded by encouraging the US Army to continue working with regional partners such as India and Egypt to help shape a prosperous and stable global order.
With sequestration a reality and little hope for a bargain on the horizon, the US military is facing a steeper-than-planned defense drawdown that few wanted but fewer still seem to be willing or able to stop. What are the implications for the men and women of the US Army if the sequester stays on the books for the foreseeable future?
AEI’s Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies will host General Raymond Odierno, Chief of Staff of the US Army, for the second installment of a series of four events with each member of the Joint Chiefs.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Mackenzie Eaglen, AEI
General Raymond T. Odierno, US Army
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Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow in the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at AEI. She has worked on defense issues in the US Congress — both in the House of Representatives and Senate — and at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She specializes in defense strategy, budget, military readiness, and the defense industrial base. In 2010, Eaglen served as a staff member of the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission established to assess the Pentagon’s major defense strategy. A prolific writer on defense-related issues, she has also testified before Congress.
General Raymond T. Odierno, assumed duty as the 38th Chief of Staff of the US Army on September 7, 2011. During more than 36 years of service, he has commanded units at every echelon, from platoon to theater, with duties in Germany, Albania, Kuwait, Iraq, and the United States. From October 2001 to June 2004, General Odierno commanded the 4th Infantry Division, leading the division during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from April 2003 to March 2004. From December 2006 to February 2008, he served as Commanding General, Multi-National Corps – Iraq (III Corps) as the operational commander of the surge of forces. From September 2008 to September 2010, he served as Commanding General, Multi- National Force — Iraq. From October 2010 to August 2011, he was Commander, United States Joint Forces Command. His awards and decorations include four Defense Distinguished Service Medals, two Army Distinguished Service Medals, the Defense Superior Service Medal, six Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four Meritorious Service 2 Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.