Defense

June 21, 2012

Review panel urges changes in combat, incentive pays

by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

The 11th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation recommends changes to combat pay and changes to special and incentive pays while saying current military pay rates are about right.

Tom Bush, the study’s director, said the review also recommended further study of compensation of wounded warriors and their caregivers, for survivors, and making compensation for reserve-component service members consistent.

Bush and Jeri Busch, the Pentagon’s director of military compensation policy, spoke with reporters yesterday and stressed that the review’s findings are recommendations. While some of the recommendations may become reality, they said, the review – convened by President Barack Obama – is meant to inform White House, congressional and Defense Department leaders.

The review found that military compensation compares favorably against private-sector pay, Bush said. Enlisted pay is at the 90th percentile of overall pay meaning it is ahead of 90 percent of comparable civilian workers’ pay. The review graphed enlisted regular military compensation against civilians with high school diplomas, civilians with some college and civilians with associate’s degrees. Service members do better than these comparable civilians at any point in a 20-year career, the study found.

Commissioned officers’ regular military compensation is higher than that of 83 percent of civilians with bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

The review recommends an overhaul of combat compensation, Bush said. The review recommends setting hostile-fire pay higher than imminent danger pay and having more than one level of imminent-danger pay to reflect varying levels of danger in different locations authorized for the pay.

A QRMC survey of service members indicate that they believe combat compensation is unfair, Bush said, noting that the longer service members are in the military, the better the benefit is for them. Because they receive higher pay than junior personnel, senior service members receive more benefit from the combat zone tax exclusion for military pay. The vast majority of those under fire are junior personnel – both officer and enlisted – who do not benefit as much from the tax exemption, Bush said.

The review also recommends replacing the combat zone tax exclusion with a refundable tax credit, Bush said. “Even if their tax bill is zero, they are going to get that credit back if it is refundable,” he added. The combat tax credit would be linked to coming under hostile fire, Bush explained.

Another suggestion from the review is a direct-support tax credit linked to imminent danger pay. “We would also suggest that the tax credit … be prorated,” Bush said. “If you are not in the zone, if you are not exposed to danger, you don’t get it.”

The review also recommends an annual recertification of combat zones, which are designated by presidential executive order, in the same manner as declaration of a state of emergency.

The review also delved into pay incentives such as bonuses and monthly incentive pays and the services use to manage particularly vital career fields. For example, nuclear officers aviators and some military medical personnel receive special pay. The review recommends establishing a general career incentive pay authority that isn’t linked to specific career fields such as aviation or medicine, but could be tailored to grow or shrink as circumstances warrant.

President Barack Obama’s letter of instruction on the review panel’s mission specifically cited four examples: special operations forces, remotely piloted vehicle operators, linguists and translators, and mental health experts, Bush said.

The QRMC is looking whether an authority exists to offer a career incentive pay that can be applied to any career field deemed critical. The review recommends that rather than just asking for another special pay category, the Defense Department would have the authority to pay anyone – cryptanalysts, for example – when needed, Bush said. This would require legislation, he added.

The review also made recommendations on wounded warriors and their caregivers, and for survivors. The review found that wounded warriors are well provided for financially, and recommends continued study of wounded warriors’ earnings and disability payments to monitor long-term financial well-being. Another recommendation looks to create a seamless transition between the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments for service members leaving the military.

The review revealed that DOD and VA need more empirical data on the financial situation of wounded warriors’ caregivers, and the report recommends more study of this.

Finally, the review recommends modifying the survivor benefit plan to allow surviving spouses to receive the portion of the SBP annuity funded by retiree premiums.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines September 17, 2014

News: Pentagon open to U.S. ground troops in fight against Islamic State - The Pentagon’s top general opened the door Sept. 16 to the possibility that U.S. combat troops would be needed in Iraq, as he publicly laid out President Obama’s still-developing plans to combat Islamic State insurgents through U.S. air power and relying on an...
 
 

News Briefs September 17, 2014

U.S. to assign 3,000 troops to fight Ebola The Obama administration is preparing to assign 3,000 U.S. military personnel to West Africa to combat the Ebola outbreak that has overwhelmed local health care systems and drawn appeals for help from the region and aid organizations. The troops will supply medical and logistical support and boost...
 
 
Navy photograph

Future USNS Fall River delivered

Navy photograph The joint high speed vessel USNS Fall River (JHSV 4) completes acceptance trials testing and evaluations in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship’s trials included dockside testing to clear the ship for sea and at-...
 

 
University of Alaska-Fairbanks photograph by Chris Larsen

NASA airborne campaigns focus on climate impacts in Arctic

University of Alaska-Fairbanks photograph by Chris Larsen Changes in more than 130 Alaskan glaciers are being surveyed by scientists at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in a DHC-3 Otter as part of NASA’s multi-year Oper...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic

Future of NATO: Adapting to a new security environment

Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic Gen. Phillip Breedlove informs the assembled crowd about the results of the recent NATO Summit and the areas of instability that affect Europe that have regional implications. Seated in...
 
 
Image courtesy of NASA/CXC/M. Weiss

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory finds planet that makes star act deceptively old

Image courtesy of NASA/CXC/M. Weiss A new study from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory shows that a giant exoplanet, WASP-18b, is making the star that it orbits very closely act much older than it actually is. This artist&...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>