- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2013

The Army would lose more than 100,000 soldiers if Congress does not avert automatic defense budget cuts due to occur in two weeks, the Army’s chief of staff said Friday.

“This is already on top of an 88,000 cut we’re taking right now,” said Gen. Ray Odierno at the Brookings Institution on Friday. “My guess in the end, it’ll be over 200,000 soldiers that we will have to take out of the active component, the National Guard, and the U.S. Army Reserve.”

Cuts of $500 billion over the next decade will hit the Defense Department on March 1, in addition to the $487 billion of defense cuts mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Further cuts will occur if Congress extends a continuing resolution holding funding at 2012 levels, instead of passes a 2013 defense spending bill on March 27.

A large majority of the additional cuts would be done through attrition, but some will be asked to retire early or leave, including officers and senior non-commission officers, he said.

Reducing the number of soldiers too fast would result in losing the best leaders and soldiers, which would hurt readiness for future conflicts, he added.

“The one thing history is clear about — we will be asked to deploy soldiers again,” said the four-star general. “It is my responsibility that when they’re asked, they have the capacity and readiness to be decisive and accomplish the mission.”