Military Compensation Panel Mulls Enlisted Performance Pay
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2005 Hard-charging servicemembers who are promoted ahead of their peers may one day also be rewarded with performance pay, the chief of a defense panel studying military compensation issues said here today.
Military pay tables are currently constructed so "you get paid based on your length of service," retired Adm. Donald L. Pilling, chairman of the Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation, explained at an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.
After talking over pay issues with the services' senior enlisted advisers, Pilling said, the committee concluded it might be a good idea to someday "change the pay tables so that you get paid for your length of service in a pay grade."
In this way, exceptional enlisted servicemembers who are promoted ahead of their peers could be more fairly compensated for their efforts, Pilling noted. Today's enlisted pay system doesn't really reward high performers of the same rank, he said.
Pilling emphasized that any committee proposals are "looking forward" and would not affect servicemembers on duty today.
Recent discussions with Guard and Reserve leaders indicate that reserve component members want to be paid under the same financial system that active duty troops have, Pilling noted.
And, the military's current retirement system "is certainly an area we have to look at," Pilling said, noting most servicemembers today who retire at 20 years of service begin second careers. One retirement-related idea involves providing matching funds to servicemembers' thrift savings contributions, he said.
Other forms of compensation in the future could include providing low-interest rates for home mortgage loans and enhanced military spouse employment programs, Pilling said.
Defense leaders strive to ensure servicemembers are adequately compensated "so we can recruit and retain high-quality people," Pilling explained. He acknowledged that the military couldn't compete with the private sector to provide the highest pay.
Yet, people don't join the military "for a paycheck," Pilling asserted, but "come in to serve their country." And, in that regard, Pilling said, the armed services offer an opportunity unavailable elsewhere.
The committee's work "is still in its preliminary stages," Pilling said. The next two months will be "intense," he noted, as the committee's interim report is due in October.
The committee's final report is due to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in April, Pilling said.