Dorn Says DoD Is Addressing Needs Deploying Personnel
By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 1995 The military is doing everything it can to prepare its personnel for deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina, DoD's chief of personnel and readiness said at a Pentagon press briefing.
Defense undersecretary Edwin Dorn said deploying personnel for any contingency is a complicated process. "Sometimes there's not an exact or simple or single answer that's going to cover everyone," said Dorn. "How they're prepared and what benefits they receive will depend on their specific location or mission."
To help those deploying, Dorn outlined several programs designed to train, update and prepare stateside service members and civilians before deploying. He also addressed benefit entitlements for all deployed personnel.
Most service members will receive increased pay while deployed. "All our people will continue to receive their normal, day-to-day pay and allowances," said Dorn. "In addition, they'll receive imminent danger pay, family separation allowance and other special pays -- those will be added to the entitlement."
Dorn said up to an additional $352 a month will go to service members while deployed. These allowances include imminent danger pay ($150 per month), an incidental expense allowance ($105 per month), certain places pay ($8 to $22 per month, based on rank) and a family separation allowance ($75 per month). For their civilian counterparts, the amount will vary, depending on their base pay.
Asked why DoD is authorizing imminent danger pay for a peacekeeping mission, Dorn said there are certain dangers that warrant the allowance. "There's the danger of hostile fire; there's also, of course, the danger posed by land mines," said Dorn. "The military decides the nature of the danger, we respond with the appropriate benefit."
Not all deploying troops will receive these allowances. Those pulling duty in Hungary will not receive imminent danger pay, but they will receive all other allowances.
Besides pay, Dorn said, there are other benefits available to deploying service members and DoD civilians. All deployed will receive free mailing privileges, tax filing extensions, medical and dental treatment, and commissary and exchange rights.
Service members (both active and reserve) may also enroll in savings deposit program and earn special leave. Reserve and National Guard members may also receive payment for unused leave once their deployment ends.
Dorn emphasized DoD's commitment to providing equal benefits to Reserve and National Guard personnel on active duty. "This is a lesson from Operation Desert Storm," said Dorn. "We worked very closely with the Congress and made adjustments to ensure that once called up, our reserve components and their families enjoy the same benefits as the active force."
Dorn said these benefits include medical and dental coverage and access to commissaries and exchanges. In addition, Dorn said Reserve and Guard personnel would retain re-employment protection, transitional medical and dental care, and guarantees under the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act.
To prepare stateside personnel for Bosnia, Dorn said, the Army is conducting four- to seven-day training sessions at three East Coast military bases. Personnel at Fort Bragg, N.C., Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Dix, N.J. brief deploying members on matters they'll need to know about while deployed. These include rules of engagement and situation updates from the field.
In addition, all personnel will receive health, equipment and training verification checks to ensure they are deployable. These checks include weapons qualification, proper clothing for the cold Balkan climate and immunizations. Once those forces arrive in Germany, Dorn said, they'll receive additional up-to-date situation briefings preceding movement to their final locations.
Dorn said postal addresses will soon be available so personnel may receive mail. Telephone and electronic mail services from Bosnia must be through commercial ventures. Dorn said DoD cannot ask phone companies to provide free or commercial telephone services to service members.
Dorn concluded his remarks by addressing concerns about deployments so close to holidays. "We understand that family members are always going to be upset and disturbed when their loved ones are deployed on short notice," said Dorn. "I think the family members understand that their spouses are doing important duty. We think we have in place the mechanisms to help them understand the situation and cope with it."