Military Pay, Allowances Recognize Troops' Contributions
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 18, 2005 Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Defense Department leaders and U.S. legislators "have worked together to increase servicemembers' basic pay by more than 21 percent," a senior DoD official told House Armed Services Committee members March 16.
DoD remains "committed to taking care of servicemembers and their families through appropriate compensation while members are deployed and serving their country in dangerous locations around the world," Charles S. Abell noted in his prepared statements given before the Military Personnel Subcommittee. Abell is the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
U.S. troops are slated for a 3.1 percent across-the-board pay raise this year, Abell noted. Additionally, he added, the department has met its goal of eliminating troops' average out-of-pocket housing costs by 2005. In fact, he noted, military housing allowances are 41 percent greater than they were in 2001.
Troops serving in dangerous overseas locales receive various types of tax relief, depending upon rank and income, as well as additional compensation in view of their contributions in fighting and sustaining America's fight against terrorism, Abell said.
For example, eligible enlisted troops deployed to combat zones have their military pay exempted from federal income tax, Abell noted. In addition to their regular pay, these troops also receive $225 monthly in danger pay, Abell noted, as well as a $250 monthly family separation allowance.
Abell noted that troops deployed to overseas combat zones also receive hardship duty pay of $100 a month and a $105 monthly incidental expense allowance.
An accumulation of such added compensation typically amounts to more than $700 in added monthly pay for married servicemembers, he said, and more than $500 for the typical single troop during deployment.
"These pays and allowances acknowledge the hardship and danger involved at these deployment locations," Abell pointed out, "as well as the sacrifice associated with tours away from family."
And, troops who volunteer to extend their overseas tours of duty in combat zones like Afghanistan and Iraq also can receive an additional $1,000 monthly in assignment incentive pay, Abell noted.
DoD also wants to work with Congress, Abell said, to increase servicemembers' hardship duty pay. And the department is seeking to keep its Special Operations troops in uniform through an array of incentive packages, he noted.
For example, "we are offering bonuses of up to $150,000 for highly skilled senior noncommissioned officers to serve an additional six years," Abell noted.