Military Pay Is Politics In Play

 

NewsMax has the following post up ‘Outrage: Obama Administration Targets Military For Pay Reductions.  While The Washington Post looks at it this way ‘Pentagon asking Congress to hold back on generous increases in troop pay’.

Both articles are in regards to the congressional intent to offer the military a 1.9% pay increase.  Whereas the Obama Administration has recommended a 1.5% military pay increase.  Basically, President Obama is asking congress for a lower increase in military pay at a time our troops are in harm’s way.

From The Washington Post we see this angle.

Through nine years of war, service members have seen a healthy rise in pay and benefits, with most of them now better compensated than workers in the private sector with similar experience and education levels.

From NewsMax we are offered.

For example, the military brass claims that an average sergeant in the Army with four years of service and one dependent would receive $52,589 in annual compensation, according to the paper. This figure includes basic pay, housing, and subsistence allowances, as well as tax benefits.

Meanwhile, a U.S. postal letter carrier, with no supervisory or hazardous duty, makes approximately $80,000 a year when all benefits are factored in.

Critics of the Obama administration’s efforts to cut soldier’s pay say America’s security has been strengthened by higher pay rates, as qualified veterans are re-enlisting at record rates, reversing the problem the military witnessed just a few years ago.

The 52k figure includes all compensation and benefits.  The reality is that the take home pay is much, much lower.

I refuse to believe that in this day of multi-billion dollar Wall St bailouts, a failed trillion Dollar Stimulus Plan, the Trillion Dollar socialization of our Nations Healthcare system and the rewarding of Socialist Billionaires for buying elections, that the Obama Administration cannot find something else to cut in the budget in order to fairly compensate military members at war.

Police and firefighters often make more than military members and they have an excellent benefits package, retire early and receive higher retirement pay.  While the majority of our police and firefighters are brave souls performing dangerous jobs, it does not compare to military service in a danger zone.

In the military, when you are deployed to a combat zone, your day ends exactly at midnight.  Your new day begins exactly at midnight.  There is no hourly wage, no time card, no union rules and while you may perform a watch, there is no shift that will end at a given time.  You do what you are told, you rest when you can and you take advantage of any relaxation possible.  Because, 24/7 there is someone trying to kill you.

Imagine that.  Every day, every night, even when you are sleeping, 24/7 someone is plotting to make you dead.  It is nothing personal.  You are just a number to them.  Your life’s only value is their political gain in causing your death.  You are living target for someone else’s gun 24/7.

How do you adequately value the compensation for such a job?  A police officer involved in a shooting is placed on administrative duties until the investigation is over, or the officer is mentally and physically prepared to return to duty.  They can go home, relax, take a vacation, or simply find something else to do.

A military member involved in a firefight may lose their best friend and be required to carry on for days with no end in sight.  They will spend months on the line expecting a firefight every second.  Their only relief is when the firefight starts, because the waiting for it is over.

Military members in peace time often takes risks far above and beyond that required of a normal ‘dangerous’ job.

There were often times in my military career when I could not believe they paid me for what I did.  Then there were other times when I could not believe ‘what’ they paid me for what I did.  I mean, Evil Knievel would have been compensated millions of dollars for a job that I was ordered to do and I was often compensated less than a minimum wage employee working full-time at Mickey D’s.  That is life in the military.

I lived through a time when active duty military members were compensated so little in pay that they often were qualified to receive food stamps.  A time when many military members used up their leave working part-time jobs just to make ends meet.  A time when military pay and compensation placed a majority below the poverty level. 

A time of double-digit inflation when congress voted themselves a 33% percent pay raise, while they and the President made the decision to let the military be the example for the rest of the nation and capped the military pay raise at 1%.  Moral did not exist and qualified people left the service every day because they could no longer ‘afford’ to serve.  It took a decade to rebuild and make up for the talent lost. I never want to see those times return.

This is what happens in Socialist nations.  They reduce their ability to defend themselves in order to pay for Socialist programs.  Western Europe is a perfect example.  They have hollow militarys that largely depend on assistance from the U. S. Military.  They are incapable of defending themselves, much less projecting power.  That is the price of Socialism.

We are the United States of America.  The defenders of the Free World.  If we go down, if we lose our edge, if we substitute Socialist programs for military strength, the World goes down with us.

Our military is the strongest best equipped military in the World.  The best defense has always been to have the best offense.  We have that now. I remember a time when we did not. 

Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.  We are at war, our enemies are many and they are not getting any friendlier.  Give the military just compensation Mr. President.  They are doing a job many would never do.  They deserve better.  Give it to them.  It is the right thing to do.

Every time I watch the above video it brings a tear to my eye. I am damn proud of this military.  I ask God to bless them and protect them every day.

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13 Responses to Military Pay Is Politics In Play

  1. […] Military Pay Is Politics In Play « SirKnob's Blog […]

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  4. Dan Gilbert says:

    Major Dan Gilbert
    Student, Command and General Staff School
    U.S. Army Combined Arms Center
    Fort Belvoir, Virginia

    It is interesting to see how much things can change in 10 years. The mantra in 2000 was to increase soldier pay and benefits thereby improving their quality of life. This was done before 9/11 and by accident, the current amazing benefit package, became the most important human resource element of holding the all-volunteer force together given the post 9/11 deployment reality.

    However, the current soldier compensation is both unsustainable and not in our nation’s best interests in the long term. Being a Major, I am unfamiliar how the current compensation affects a lower enlisted. But, I am very familiar with how the current military compensation affects Captains, Majors, and probably even Lieutenant Colonels.

    A variety of studies have confirmed what I know anecdotally. In the aggregate, soldiers earn more in the military than they did or could earn in the civilian sector. This is potentially harmful to the military for several reasons. First, this actually comes with some negative consequences. Because of the “earning gap” that favors the military, it causes many (especially officers) to continue to serve primarily because of the financial reward rather than commitment to service.

    Consider the following logic. It is reasonable to correlate a lower performing officer to lower earnings potential in the civilian sector. Thus, their “earnings gap” would be higher because their perceived civilian wage is lower. Therefore, in the aggregate, the lower the officer performs, the greater the motivation to stay in the Army because of the financial benefit.

    The solutions are not easy. It is best that two things occur. First, Congress and society should defer to the military about how to reshape military pay. Second, the Department of Defense should begin to implement changes to the pay system that meet the following two criteria: result in financial savings for the department and provide a better benefit to the soldier.
    Although this seems like a contradiction, it is possible and early solutions abound. For example, the average soldier creates a $9,000 per annum contribution into the general military retirement fund. However, only soldiers that retire actually capitalize on the benefit. It benefits the careerists (those most likely making the decisions) and provides no benefit to a soldier that elects to exit before retirement age. This aspect is ripe for reform.

    Reforming military pay is a complicated task and it is not easy. It is important for Congress and society to defer to the military to find the proper solutions and not force increased benefits that the department must ultimately pay for anyway. This is a military solution.

    “The views expressed in this “insert type” are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.”

    • sirknob says:

      Thank you Major Dan 🙂 You raise some very good points on this issue. As I stated earlier, I served during a time when compensation would not allow a decent living. When I retired I was making good money, however, I feel I had earned it through time and self sacrifice.
      With the challenges facing today’s armed forces it is difficult for me to contemplate pay and allowances that would have any negative effect. You are correct that the status quo may be unmaintainable. However, history has taught me that certain governement controls create mass inflation, which is what happened during the 70s, that will place a military member on welfare rather quickly. Many forecast that the next hyper inflation is just around the corner. The national debt has significantly increased under the current admin and they are printing money faster than ever.
      Put simply, keep the military pay at status quo during our current conflict and see what inflation does. The worst thing in the World is to have a soldier return from combat and be forced to work part time due to inadequate pay.
      Thanks again for your good comments. Hope you have a great day 🙂

  5. samuel walters says:

    “the rewarding of Socialist Billionaires for buying elections”

    I thought you had to pass a basic intelligence test to be allowed in the armed forces?

    Although for a job that starts paying around 2$ an hour, the bar must be set pretty low.

    While it is true that the rich have always bought elections, I think that you will find that most people who have amassed literally billions of dollars have rightfully and reasonably renounced socialism. Hence their wild success as capitalists in our capitalist economy.

    Again, the intelligence question must be raised.

    • sirknob says:

      Objection noted. Though the insult to my intelligence is quite uncalled for, I bring to question yours and ask you to explain Mr. George Soros. A self declared Socialist Billionaire and owner of the Democrat Party? Maybe you can also answer the question why are the oil rigs heading to Brazil after Obama shut down drilling. Noting Soros bought 20% of the Brazil oil firm Petrobas, and also noting that Obama gave Petrobas Billions of our Stimulus money shortly after Soros made his investment.
      There are three Socialist Billionaires in this country that are well known for making their millions not through capitalism, but by betting on its failure, then doing everything in their power to create that failure.
      Sir, do some research before you insult others intelligence by making an off hand statement that has no basis in fact. My comments were directly related to the Socialist Billionaires that bought the election for Socialist Democrats.
      Your disdain for our military reveals your political agenda and you will win no arguments will Socialist and Liberal bullcrap here.
      Thanks for your comments. Have a great day 🙂

  6. Scott says:

    Sirknob, first let me say, thank you for your service and your resilience through true financial hard times serving in the military. Secondly, let me say we share several common viewpoints, but would like to comment on a few things from both you and MAJ Gilbert.

    “The 52k figure includes all compensation and benefits. The reality is that the take home pay is much, much lower.” (Sirknob 19 May 2010)

    This is an easy cop out way to figure compensation that briefs well to public/politicians when making big muscle movements to cut a budget. The reality is the over emphasis of what exactly this number represent and the lack of the rest of the story behind these numbers. Consider quality of life into the compensations they peg with digits to add up and place on the chopping block. NewsMax figured in basic pay before tax, which has seen normal inflationary raises, housing, which is either a tent in the desert for a year or more, a small barracks room with up to four (4) or more people sharing a common area, or perhaps an apartment that is equal to the surrounding economy of the location assigned. They include a subsistence allowance for food that is either a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE – packaged meal), a meal card at the dining facility, or minimal dollar figure to account for outrageous food expenses on the economy at the local fast food establishment, because the housing often times doesn’t have adequate cooking essentials, as well as referencing tax benefits. Are these tax benefits the ones while serving in a combat zone where life and/or injury are potentially at stake? The rest of the story isn’t so glamorous, so they choose leave out that part in their numerical representation to focus the axe on the chopping block. I’m not complaining about military life/hardship, we all signed up for it and most of us love it, but these figures should also tell the rest of the story if we are going to be comparing them to civilian figures.

    “Obama Administration cannot find something else to cut in the budget in order to fairly compensate military members at war.” (Sirknob 19 May 2010)
    “I lived through a time when active duty military members were compensated so little in pay that they often were qualified to receive food stamps. A time when many military members used up their leave working part-time jobs just to make ends meet. A time when military pay and compensation placed a majority below the poverty level.” (Sirknob 19 May 2010)
    Understandably, personnel costs are extremely high, but personnel are also our most valuable resource. The National Defense Strategy (NDS) under Force Management Risk states “the people of our Total Force are the greatest asset of the Department. Ensuring that each person has the opportunity to contribute to the maximum of their potential is critical to achieving DoD’s objectives and supporting U.S. national security” (National Defense Strategy 2008). As mission, political regimes, and budgetary hardships change, the focus and importance of the expense of military personnel change with them. “The military’s “all volunteer force” concept, which replaced the draft in 1973, has been a resounding success, but at a resounding cost. In the past decade, the Army’s personnel costs have more than doubled, from $27.7 billion in 2001 to a projected $59.1 billion for 2011 — with an additional $11.9 billion in projected wartime personnel costs for next year” (Wood 2010). Success at a cost; are we willing to trade the success for a cheaper unsuccessful force? Are we willing to narrow our global focus to shrink the force to stay within budget? I don’t know, but as we continue to be expand our national interests and global areas of emphasis/interest, the more quality personnel we require to accomplish stated missions effectively. We have to pay to play; if we are now not willing to pay the price for success, perhaps we should modify our global strategy concurrently, thereby lowering our reach and expectations for those successes we have a responsibility for and demand as a world superpower.

    “However, the current soldier compensation is both unsustainable and not in our nation’s best interests in the long term. Being a Major, I am unfamiliar how the current compensation affects a lower enlisted. But, I am very familiar with how the current military compensation affects Captains, Majors, and probably even Lieutenant Colonels” (Major Gilbert 19 May 2010).

    “The worst thing in the World is to have a soldier return from combat and be forced to work part time due to inadequate pay” (Sirknob 19 May 2010)

    The current Soldier compensation is and I almost guarantee will be sustained, although perhaps not as incrementally increased during annual pay raise decisions or other vehicles of reduction. If the decision is made to cut pay, allowances, and benefits to Soldiers directly, I would expect a force reduction for more favorable compensation in the civilian workforce once the economy rebounds. It is difficult to play trends and ever be on target with regard to the economy. For the technical fields and highly marketable military jobs, it is difficult to retain our force without these benefits and compensations during a thriving economy. It would make more sense to address this at the aggregate budget level opposed to the individual Soldier level, thereby maintaining pay, allowances, and benefits to the individual and choosing to reduce the force deliberately through other means indirectly. If mission or political regimes choose either action, although perhaps falling on deaf ear, I would encourage them to understand the reduction of capabilities concurrently with a work force reduction.

    “In the aggregate, soldiers earn more in the military than they did or could earn in the civilian sector.” “Because of the “earning gap” that favors the military, it causes many (especially officers) to continue to serve primarily because of the financial reward rather than commitment to service” (Major Gilbert 19 May 2010).

    I don’t know what you’re basing your assumption on while comparing military to civilian earning potential, but I would challenge the breadth of the “earning gap” considering we have many technical highly marketable skilled Soldiers that could and often times do serve the civilian sector very well and are highly compensated. It is a little naive to think that all military service members serve primarily for a commitment to service. Although it is likely on the list, I wouldn’t go as far as to say the highest or primary reason most service members serve. We are all products of our culture and society and our society is about the individual and the “what’s in it for me” generation. The reality is people serve for their own individual reasons with their own individual goals and agendas and we can’t order them to change it. We can only appreciate them for how they can contribute positively to the organization and say thank you for their service when life takes them in another direction.

    “It is reasonable to correlate a lower performing officer to lower earnings potential in the civilian sector. Thus, their “earnings gap” would be higher because their perceived civilian wage is lower. Therefore, in the aggregate, the lower the officer performs, the greater the motivation to stay in the Army because of the financial benefit” (Major Gilbert 19 May 2010).

    It is perhaps reasonable to you to make the correlation of reward for performance, but I’ve seen plenty of low performing civilians making ungodly amounts of money for doing not even half of what you and I may do in a day in the life. Consider our government civilian workforce. The traditional DA civilian rating system is not performance based at all. It is more of a paperwork drill to receive annual inflation increases and never seen by a hiring board. We attempted to make it performance based with the NSPS system fielding initially OCONUS and although the annual increases were almost double that of the traditional system, it is being scrapped due to several factors of performance based compensation to include rejection by the workforce. If a “lower performing officer” is meeting the standard, he should be able to stay in the Army and appreciated for his service. If he is not meeting the standard or meeting your standard of a high performer, that is a leadership failure or perhaps an issue with the standards themselves that should be addressed. I understand where you’re coming from; however, I’ve been told by a peer, “I can center of mass all the way to LTC and retire.” Right or wrong, they’re meeting the Army standard, but perhaps not your standard.

    The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government or are in no way politically driven.

    Major Scott Salmon
    Student, Command & General Staff School
    Fort Gordon, Georgia Campus

    Ref:
    Wood, David. Army’s Generous Pay, Benefits: Are Skyrocketing Costs Sustainable? May 2, 2010.
    National Defense Strategy 2008

  7. SirKnob says:

    Hi Major, thank you for the comment 🙂 Yes, a professional military that is capable of deterring those that would take away freedom is well worth the investment. What price of others would place on defending freedom would increase exponentially once freedom is lost. In other word, what price do place upon living in a free society that is protected from the interventions of evil? As Eddie Murphy once said, you offer someone a saltine cracker when they are not hungry and they may be offended. If you offer that same saltine cracker to a hungry person, they may see it as the best tasting cracker in the World.
    Paying service members a quality wage for the sacrifices their duties demand, a sacrifice they patriotically volunteer for, is not only just, it is a pittance compared to what ‘it will cost us’ if we do not.

    How many kings in history would have given all their gold to army that could have defended them and saved their kindom. Hindsight should not be a necessity for the protection of a free people and having (paying for) the best offense is the a proven means of avoiding confict and protecting a free society.

    Again, thank you for the comments, I hope you and yours have a really great day 🙂

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