The Army's chief of staff said Friday that looming budget cuts pose the greatest threat to U.S. security.
"The Army has been in a state of continuous war for nearly 12 years, the longest in our nation's history," said Gen. Raymond T. Odierno while speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "But today, in my opinion, the greatest threat to our national security is the fiscal uncertainty resulting from the lack of predictability in the budget cycle."
Gen. Ordierno told the audience at the liberal-leaning think tank that the impact of hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts to military spending, enacted in 2010 under then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is beginning to show in quantifiable terms.
"[In fiscal 2013], the combination of a continuing resolution, a shortfall in overseas contingency operations funds for Afghanistan, and the sequester has resulted in a $17 billion to 18 billion shortfall to the Army's operations and maintenance accounts, as well as an additional $6 billion cut to all other programs — and all these cuts will have to be taken over the last seven months of this year.
"We're going to be able to pay for water, heat, and that's about it," the general said.
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