Army May Have to Extend Deployments in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (AP) — Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan next year may see their war tours extended because budget cuts will drastically limit training for brigades to replace them, the top Army general said Friday.
Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said the military will be able to fund training and operations for combat units in Afghanistan now and for those deploying in the summer and fall. But he says there will be delays in training for those deploying in 2014.
If those training delays can’t be made up, Odierno said he would have to send forces to war that aren’t ready or extend deployments of units already there. A number of combat brigades will be deploying later this year and next year, even as the U.S. winds down the war.
“We will try to divert money so we do not have to extend people in Afghanistan,” Odierno told a conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “That’s a very big concern of mine.”
He said that right now the Army is facing a shortfall of as much as $8 billion in operating funds for Afghanistan, and there could be an additional $5.4 billion in cuts if Congress can’t resolve a budget standoff and automatic reductions – called sequester – go into effect.
Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Friday that he expects the sequester to go into effect March 1, triggering $46 billion in automatic cuts to the overall Pentagon budget through September. “I think it’s going to happen,” McKeon told reporters. “We have just not been able to get past the politics of it to really focus in on the devastating effects.”
President Barack Obama announced this week that he will cut the size of the U.S. force roughly in half by a year from now. There are currently about 66,000 U.S. troops at the warfront, and he said he will withdraw about 34,000 by this time next year.
Longer deployments have been a difficult issue for the Army.
In 2007, the Army extended the yearlong deployments to 15 months in order to meet the demands of the Iraq war, including the surge of troops ordered by then-President George W. Bush. In many cases, combat brigades returned home and were ordered to deploy again 12 months later, leading top military leaders to worry that the force was being strained almost to the breaking point.
Over time, as the Iraq war ended, the Army deployment times were scaled back to a year, and most are now about nine months long.
Among the units scheduled to deploy later this spring is the 4th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga., but the Army has not announced what units will go to Afghanistan later in the summer in fall.
- John McCain Lectures Tea Party Senator on How ‘Business’ Gets Done in Congress: ‘That’s What We’ve Been Doing for a Couple Hundred Years’ 590 Comments
- Boy Scouts of America Vote to Allow Gay Members 520 Comments
- Pope Francis’ Sermon Sparks Debate: ‘Even the Atheists’ Have Been Redeemed ‘With the Blood of Christ’ 497 Comments
- Obama Doesn’t Return Marine’s Salute, Shakes Hand Instead — Is This a Protocol Misstep? 390 Comments
- Piers Morgan Bans Dana Loesch From His Show Following Twitter Spat: ‘Show Some Bloody Respect’ 336 Comments
- Game-Changing Bombshell? There’s a Major Twist in the Story About a High School Student’s Lesbian Relationship With a Minor 321 Comments
- Is the Boy Scouts’ Gay Amendment the ‘Beginning of the End’ for the Group? (Plus: Tell Us Where You Stand) 275 Comments
- MSNBC Hosts Martin Bashir and Chris Hayes Claim London Machete Killers Aren’t Terrorists: ‘These Are Just Murderers’ 151 Comments
- Did You Catch the Possibly Policy-Changing Ft. Hood Reference in Obama’s Terror Speech? Read More
- Dem. Rep. Apologizes for Attending ‘Racist, Anti-Semitic and Homophobic’ Speech Read More
- Have You Had Scotch at a NJ TGI Friday’s Lately? You Might Have Been Drinking Rubbing Alcohol Read More
- Venezuelan President Blames Toilet Paper Shortage on the Rich Read More
- This Terrible Chart Shows the Change in Food Stamp Participation Over the Last 10 Years Read More
- Disney Makes Absolutely Mortifying Photoshop Mistake Read More
- Trey Gowdy at It Again — This Time with a Jack Bauer Reference! 117 Comments
- LOOK: Woman Claims to Have Photographed UFO in California Read More
- Lion Named ‘Bonedigger’ and Small Dog Make Most Unlikely Companions Read More
- Rocket Bike Sets Land Speed Record — and Uses a Fuel You Wouldn’t Expect Read More
- How 3D Printing Technology Created a Special Part for Baby’s Windpipe and Saved His Life Read More
- 6 Fascinating Spy Gadgets You’ll Probably Want (and Can Have) After Seeing Read More
- Gas cylinder blast on Pakistan school bus kills 17
- Late turnovers doom Heat in Game 2 loss, 97-93
- Pacers steal Game 2 from Heat, 97-93
- Official: 2 dead after Angel Flight crashes in NY
- Militants attacks kill 9 in Pakistan
- Trucker bumps I-5 bridge, sees horror behind him
- Penguins rip Ottawa 6-2, move to conference finals
- Granderson hurt as Yankees beat Rays 9-4