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Amid Tighter Budgets, U.S. Army Rebalancing and Refocusing

A Conversation with Raymond T. Odierno

Speaker: Raymond Odierno, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
Presider: James Sciutto, Chief National Security Correspondent, CNN
February 11, 2014

Event Description

With the deployment in Afghanistan winding down and facing significant budget cuts, the U.S. Army finds itself in a period of transition. Army chief of staff Raymond Odierno joins CNN's James Sciutto to discuss the ongoing rebalancing of U.S. forces toward Asia and the challenges of maintaining military readiness in a post-sequestration environment.

Event Highlights

Raymond Odierno on how Iraq's sectarian politics have contributed to the current resurgence in violence there:

"So what happened is, although they had the time and space to continue—because security was good—to build the economy, to increase oil flow—really, they were never able to reconcile between the different groups. And so what you saw is a continuing mistrust of the political entities within Iraq. And as that mistrust grew, you saw other factions begin over time—after about a two-year period—to start to take advantage of that governmental mistrust and exploit the situation, which then created more violence."

Raymond Odierno on the U.S. role in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of combat troops at the end of the year:

"Afghanistan has moved forward quite a bit, especially in the last two years. The Afghan security forces are in charge. They are providing security for the nation. So I think we're in a place now where they have the capability to defend themselves. What they are not yet ready to do is, their institutions are not yet mature enough to sustain this over the long time. So I think it's important that we stay to help them to establish their institutions."

Raymond Odierno on sequestration's effects on the capabilities and readiness of the Army:

"What I'm worried about is, as we get through this three- to four-year window, where we kind of get back in balance, I believe for the Army, the end strength is really too small in order for us to meet the requirements that we might have to conduct in the future, and that's my concern."

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