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Report: Pogues, Fobbits, Desk-Jockeys and REMFs Getting Too Much Money

The Quadrennial Defense Review – a report issued by the Department of Defense every four years, is recommending an overhaul of the special pays awarded to service members deployed to combat zones. The report called for a greater share of the available money to go to the trigger-pullers outside the gate, as well as to more junior soldiers, marines, corpsmen and other enlisted and junior officer service members who bear the brunt of the risk.

The review found that a disproportionate share of the special pay money and benefits were going to senior officers, who were more likely to spend the vast majority of their time on large established forward operating bases (FOBs) and other comparatively low-risk areas.

“There is little correlation between exposure to danger and compensation benefits,” said the committee that issued the report, demonstrating a firm grasp of a phenomenon that has been obvious to every E-3 over the last 11 years of war. And now that the vast majority of senior officers have little risk of another tour in Iraq and Afghanistan, the senior leadership of the military is determined to take bold action against this injustice.

The current system awards the same $225 per month in hazardous duty pay to the pfc kicking in doors in Helmand that it does to the captain or senior NCO preparing PowerPoint slides in an air-conditioned trailer on a gravel compound a mile from the gate.

Now that the large scale military deployment to Iraq is over, and the end of the Afghanistan surge is in sight, the Quadrennial Defense Review Committee is courageously recommending that senior leaders “strengthen the relationship between combat and compensation so that combat compensation more appropriately rewards those service members who face the greatest possibility of being injured or losing their lives as a result of hostile action.”

The decision comes after a period of sustained and brutal ground combat action longer than the Vietnam War, and longer than two and a half 2nd World Wars.

The Pentagon committee in charge of the reviews are to be congratulated on their scintillating hindsight.

The committee’s specific recommendations:

  • Hostile Fire Pay should be higher than Imminent Danger Pay.
  • Break down Imminent Danger Pay into several categories, reflecting different categories of risk exposure.
  • Scrap the combat zone tax exclusion – which makes most pay earned in a combat zone exempt from federal income taxes – and replace it with a refundable tax credit that would provide more money, after taxes, to junior enlisted troops, but not right away. These troops would have to wait for their money until after they filed their income tax returns – a measure that is proving to be unpopular, for the moment, among service members in an unscientific online poll conducted by Military Times.

The review board courageously made no recommendation, however, on how high to set Hostile Fire Pay, Imminent Danger Pay’s several proposed categories, or how to structure the proposed tax credit. That recommendation is left to the Secretary of Defense, to be finally approved by Congress.

The country’s in the very best of hands.

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