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Thread: Pentagon recommends combat pay changes

  1. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
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    #1

    Pentagon recommends combat pay changes

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    Pentagon Review Recommends Combat Pay Changes - ABC News

    A Pentagon review recommends ridding the combat pay system of inequities that have allowed officers thousands of miles from battle to get better benefits proportionally than troops on the front lines in Afghanistan.

    The recommendations in a review released Thursday are likely to anger service members. But the director of the review said they're aimed at paying more to troops who are in the gravest danger and giving the best tax benefits to those who are paid the least.

    Military officers who are not near the fight can sometimes get more in combat pay and tax benefits than troops who are getting shot at on the front lines, said Thomas Bush, who directed the review. He said the main goal was to make combat pay more equitable.

    The report doesn't recommend any specific rates of combat pay or say that certain troops should get less. But, Bush said, "we suggest there be some meaningful distinction" between troops who are getting shot at and those who are simply deployed to one of many countries designated as combat zones.

    The recommendations are very preliminary, and Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said Friday that they will merely provide alternatives to the Defense Department to consider. Such changes often must be approved by Congress.

    Under the military's current system, there are two types of combat pay. One, called "hostile fire pay," gives troops $225 a month if they are in an area where they could be exposed to enemy fire.

    The second, called "imminent danger pay," gives up to $225 per month to those who are in a combat zone, and it is pro-rated at $7.50 a day, based on how long they are there.

    Bush said the report recommends that hostile fire pay be more than the danger pay and that there be levels of imminent danger pay based on where service members are. Currently they can get the danger pay for being in more than two dozen places, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and Jordan as well as in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

    "We want to target compensation to people who are at the greatest risk," Bush said.

    In December 2009, President Barack Obama directed the department to examine four specific areas: combat pay, benefits and pay for the National Guard and Reserve, compensation for wounded service members and their survivors and pay incentives for key defense jobs, such as drone operators, special operations forces, linguists and mental health professionals.

    Under the current system, service members up to the top level senior enlisted rank do not pay taxes on their pay when they are in a war zone. Higher level officers would not pay taxes on the portion of their salary equal to the top senior enlisted members' amount.

    When they go to a combat zone, the taxes are no longer taken out of their pay, giving them an automatic raise for their deployment time.

    The proposed change would make the combat pay a refundable tax credit that service members would file for at the end of the tax year.

    But Bush said that because of the federal tax code, the benefits for higher level officers clearly outweigh the tax benefits for low-ranking troops, because much of their pay would already be at a very low tax rate.

    The panel was struck by that disparity, Bush said, adding that a senior officer could get as much as a $15,000 tax benefit, while an Army private might get a $1,000 tax benefit.

    And yet the private serving at a combat outpost in Kandahar or Khost in Afghanistan has a much higher chance of getting killed or injured than a senior officer serving in a headquarters unit or in Bahrain.

    Congress members have been loath to do anything that appears to cut combat pay and have often tried to increase pay raises for the military. Bush acknowledged that it's not clear how open they would be to the changes recommended by the report, but he said he hoped lawmakers would be open to making the system more equal.
    Interesting, I'm not sure how I feel about the tax credit thing. Mainly because the IRS was really bitchy about giving us our homebuyer credit and it just seems easier to not have the taxes taken out in the first place.

    I do think it's probably true though that even though there is a need for changes to some policies, politicians would be hesitant to do anything that could be conceived as not "supporting the troops." It seems like anytime anything gets changed the pitchforks come out ... even though everyone is tightening their belts in this economy.
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    #2
    Not gonna lie, I think it's rather silly that my husband, when he was deployed to Bahrain, got the same extra pay as guys on the front lines. Sure the extra money was nice, but I can't help feeling like it wasn't exactly fair....
    Beth, Mama to Emmalee (12), Evan (9), and Ella (4 on May 7) (I really REALLY need to update my picture!)
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    Yeah I am not super excited about the whole tax credit idea. I do think combat pay should be changed up. The extra money softens the blow of DH being gone but unless there is some large, unexpected attack I am pretty sure he's safer in Kuwait then he is driving back and forth to post everyday.
  4. I'm from the south and sometimes I have a big mouth
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    They can still be attacked/targeted in Bahrain and Kuwait.
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    I think there should be changes. I don't think it is fair that my husband (and many others) are stationed in places where they are bombed on an almost daily basis and get shot at when they go out and receive the same combat pay and soldiers stationed in places such as Kuwait where they don't get shot at or bombed.

    The tax credit makes sense, those most at risk (enlisted) receive less of a tax benefit than officers. It makes sense to change that. But if they did change it I am sure there would be backlash about congress not supporting the troops...things like that can get twisted very easily.
  6. jjr
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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by mossey2000 View Post
    They can still be attacked/targeted in Bahrain and Kuwait.
    agree 100%
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    Quote Originally Posted by mossey2000 View Post
    They can still be attacked/targeted in Bahrain and Kuwait.
    can being the key word. The difference is that the soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are attacked/targeted. Therefore in my opinion those that are attacked/targeted should receive a larger combat benefit/pay than those that could be attacked/targeted

    Soldiers in the united states can still be attacked/targeted...but they don't recieve combat pay
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    Military officers who are not near the fight can sometimes get more in combat pay and tax benefits than troops who are getting shot at on the front lines, said Thomas Bush, who directed the review. He said the main goal was to make combat pay more equitable.
    I haven't had my coffee yet so I may be slow...but it's not just officers who get combat pay while in areas not in the front lines, right?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mossey2000 View Post
    They can still be attacked/targeted in Bahrain and Kuwait.
    But it's a much, much, much higher possibility in Afghanistan yet they currently get the same amount. I'm very pro a tax credit. Since I'm in school, my education credit makes it so we have $0 tax liability most years so the current plan doesn't benefit us really.
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by RetepDoc View Post
    can being the key word. The difference is that the soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are attacked/targeted. Therefore in my opinion those that are attacked/targeted should receive a larger combat benefit/pay than those that could be attacked/targeted

    Soldiers in the united states can still be attacked/targeted...but they don't recieve combat pay
    In that case simply re-designating combat zones should fix the problem.
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