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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on February 21st, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Pentagon Pushes To Cut Pay Raises For Troops

» by in: US Military

It looks like servicemembers can expect to receive less money in their paychecks in the coming years:

 Troops could see their lowest pay raises in four decades — far below what their civilian peers will get — if proposed changes are made in the way military raises are calculated.

Since 1999, defense officials have tied the annual military pay raise to the Employment Cost Index, the Department of Labor’s calculation in the rise in private sector wages. Military raises for 2013 and 2014 would be tied to the ECI but separated from the index in 2015, dropping to a flat 0.5 percent rate. That would be the lowest annual pay increase troops have seen since the start of the all-volunteer military in 1973.

In 2016, the rate would rise to 1 percent, not linked to the ECI. In 2017, it’d be 1.5 percent, regardless of private-sector rates.

For a mid-career enlisted servicemember, for example, the raise would be more than $1,000 a year less under the new formula. For most officers with 10 years’ experience, it’s $2,000 less a year.

Pentagon officials said last week that the plans are only tentative. The pay raises will not be official until Congress approves them each year.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but the Stars & Stripes has a handy calculator for servicemembers to figure out how much money they will lose if this gets approved.  The way I look at it is that it could be much worse if the Pentagon has to cut another roughly $500 billion if a deal isn’t reached with Congress to prevent the automatic cut.

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  • Hot Stuff
    2:40 am on February 22nd, 2012 1

    Nice spin. You sound like a politician. Lowering the amount of a pay raise does not equal a cut in pay.

  • Retired GI
    4:57 am on February 22nd, 2012 2

    It does equal a cut in expected pay. Also, not a good thing — I would think.
    Ya got it last year. Ya got it this year. You will get LESS of it next year.

  • Hot Stuff
    5:29 am on February 22nd, 2012 3

    Yeah, I understand your point…just bustin’ your balls :lol:

  • Hot Stuff
    5:30 am on February 22nd, 2012 4

    Not you Retired GI, GI Korea

  • GS Employee
    6:14 am on February 22nd, 2012 5

    Any raise is more than a DoD Civilian is getting! GS pay has been frozen for two years and probably will last for another three years, though they are dangling a big 0.5% raise right now. That equates to $250 a year (about $20 per month) before taxes for a GS-9 making $50,000. And I know…at least you have a job!

  • Retired GI
    10:44 am on February 22nd, 2012 6

    However a GS is making in the high 5 figures to 6 figures. I never saw an LES with more than 3500.00 on it, including danger and hardship pay. Your check would look quite nice indeed to me!

  • Vince
    2:39 pm on February 22nd, 2012 7

    That’s about what a GS11 or 12 makes, with housing. It is what it is. The stories that .mil people hear about lavish GS salaries are pretty overblown. The real benefits for the civil service employee are stability at a location, and tenure. If you are retiree, you won’t need to purchase health insurance if you stick with Tricare. There are other great benefits, like the BS you DON’T have to deal with as a civil service employee, that the other uniformed guys in your organization must suffer.

  • GS Korea
    4:16 pm on February 22nd, 2012 8

    If you want to see a huge disparity in pay why don’t you look at Officer vs Enlisted pay. What a GS-12 makes bi-weekly is the same as an E-7 makes with all of the benifits added that come with military pay. A 1st LT with less time in service than both the GS-12 and E-7 makes more….check you facts!

  • Sturgee
    6:02 pm on February 22nd, 2012 9


    Okay, let’s do a real comparison. Let’s look at a civil service employee with about 10-15 years of experience. To put them about middle of the road on the career scale, we’ll assume that they are a GS-11, step 4. We’ll compare that with an E-6 with over 10 years. Both are married, and we’ll put both of them in DC, where there is the biggest concentration of gov’t workers (and the locality pay/allowances will be comprable for being in the same area).

    The gov’t employee makes $68,712 (that’s the salary with locality pay for DC added in). They get no other allowances (housing, subsistence, etc).

    The E-6 makes $3243.30 per month, or $38,919.60 per year. That’s about a $30,000 disparity. But we aren’t done. The service member either gets a free barracks room, or they live off-post. Since they are married, they get BAH with dependents, which is $2487 per month, or $29,844 per year. Add that to their salary, and they are now at $68,763.60. At this point, they actually make more than that GS. Oh wait, we aren’t done. The service member also gets BAS. For enlisted members, it’s $348.44 per month, or $4181.28 per year, which is all more than what the GS gets. Granted, it isn’t a huge disparity over the GS, but by no means is the GS making gobs of money more than the soldier.

    Now we can pick random matchups and see that there are disparities, and depending on locality, the difference can surely shift in the favor of the GS. But, let’s be fair here and recognize that the disparity is not as great as many believe it to be. Yes, the base salary rates are much different, but the civilian has expenses that he must pay out of his base pay that the military will either provide for the soldier directly (housing, meals) or provide compensation to offset the cost. That results in the compensation being much more comparable between the two.

  • Leon LaPorte
    6:45 pm on February 22nd, 2012 10

    8 & 9. Nicely laid out. Well done, gentlemen…

    /*polite golf clap*

  • MCDB
    8:04 pm on February 22nd, 2012 11

    GS, active duty, you guys are all missing the point. Your salaries are all paid by the private sector. Wages in the private sector have been flat. On an hourly base, compensated for inflation I now make the same in 2012 as I was in 2004!!! When the private sector wages start seeing real progress may be we’ll start looking at what the government can really afford.

  • Retired GI
    8:14 pm on February 22nd, 2012 12

    #9 Your numbers may be off a bit. It is more like 31.636 in 2012 with 6 years of service for an E6.

    BAS without dependents is $348.44 and Officers get $239.96

    BAH without dependents is $719.00 add a wife and kids and you get $941.00 (these from 2005, by last year of service) 2012 is 984.00 and 1143 respectively

    Base Pay is $2,886 per month in 2012 for an E6 with six years.

    Government meal rate (full rate) is $2.45 for breakfast, $4.55 for lunch and the same $4.55 for dinner.

    Now if you want to talk about the free stuff, outside of medical, I really couldn’t tell you.

    You know what they say about stuff that is free right? Worth what you paid for it.
    I nearly died because of free medical twice. Once in Korea and once in Bosnia. Don’t get me started on the outstanding care I received when I crushed two toes at Fort Campbell.
    Or the deltoid that they really needed to operate on but because of Army medical pratices they were obligated to use the least promising treatment first, to confirm it wouldn’t work. Took a few weeks that if I had been paying for medical, would have happened much sooner.
    Now lets talk about what army medical did for my torn meniscus. Here is your no running profile. “If you had longer left in service we would give you a medical chapter.”

    I just love it when individuals bring up the “free stuff”. If you need to bring that up, you’re trying to make it look better than it is.

    But everyone can agree that the Officer pay far out shines the enlisted side of the house.

    On or after 20 years of service, an E6 ($3,590.00) O5 ($8,199.00)
    an E9 ($5,524.00) W4 ($6,289.00)
    Which is why I believe that an Officer above Captain can nolonger be thought of as a “soldier”. The life style and pay are not in line with that word. Think evil of me if you must, but you know it is true.

    N.C.O. stands for (non-commissioned Officer). Almost laughable really. Who goes around bragging about something they don’t have. The reason I bring it up is this; it is CHEAPER to give the junior leader a “title” than to give them the pay. Of course the “NCO Corp” swallowed it with pride, as Sergeants always have. When you know you’re not going to get the same pay, Pride is really all you have. Thank God for Sergeants! Where would the Army be without them? Likely the Officers would still be spending their days with Power Point slides. ;-)

    I was on a four day with a fine young Captain in BuddaPest once. We stopped to admire a care for sale. I forget what it was, but it was FAR outside my range. I spoke of how much I liked it and he asked if I might purchase one on my return. He had no idea how far outside my pay scale that car was.

  • Retired GI
    8:23 pm on February 22nd, 2012 13

    MCDB, that’s right. Throw the Military under the bus. Must be a Liberal. After all, he doesn’t know the difference between the Military and the Government.

    So, how much do you make per month OR per year? What is your take home pay?

  • Sturgee
    8:40 pm on February 22nd, 2012 14

    #11 – MCDB – while private sector salaries have seen little gain, most have seen some gain year-over-year. Anywhere from 0.5-2% per year for annual adjustment. GS has been frozen for 2 years now, and as mentioned earlier, may stay frozen for some time into the future. I understand full well that all of this money comes from the private sector, and I’m all for reducing the size of government, but you can’t pay the gov’t staff you do have a pittance and expect to get quality people to come and stay. I’d rather pay a solid salary to a highly competent gov’t employee than pay moderate salaries but need 6 people to get the same work done, and then still have it done questionably.

    #12 – Retired GI – Thanks for correcting my numbers on the BAS. I went off what I found quickly online, and didn’t have numbers for with dependents. Those numbers you provide only prove to further skew the disparity into the favor of the soldier. As for the discrepency is base pay and such, I mentioned in the beginning of the post that I was comparing a GS with 10-15 year of experience with an E-6 with 10+ years (not 6+ years). Thus I used the 10+ years salary and BAH numbers. Also, I didn’t even get into medical, since an E-6 with family would also be paying insurance premiums for TRICARE for his family, and there are a variety of choices, so getting those numbers nailed down is pretty much impossible. I tried to keep to the life basics – shelter and food. GS has to pay for all of that out of salary, but military either has it provided (granted, it ain’t great, and I’m not going to say that barracks are worth $20,000+ in lodging, but the soldier also doesn’t have to pay for rent out of his salary), or pay the servicemember to pay for the same rent and groceries that the GS has to pay for out of his salary.

  • Retired GI
    8:52 pm on February 22nd, 2012 15

    14, Just looking to get it right. Not trying to win in the “who is the richest” game.
    So I will trust your math. Who is richest? Leave out “free stuff”, just the numbers.

    Who has the better “check” at the end of the month? I have no “dependents” but I understand that most do, so go ahead with that figure. It is my bedtime and I’ll check in tomorrow.

  • Ole Tanker
    9:07 pm on February 22nd, 2012 16

    What is this? I comment about GS’ers and not a mention of the golden parachute…”LQA”. Now that is where the gov can save some BIG $$$$

    The reality is LQA is a game changer, some folks got LQAitis, SUCKIN ON UNKLE SAMS TEAT suckin and suckin and suckin…..

    I have faith that the gov will not leave our servicemen high and dry.

  • Vince
    9:26 pm on February 22nd, 2012 17

    How is LQA sucking at the tit? .Mil gets a housing allowance overseas (and in CONUS) or housing provided. CONUS, GS guys MAY get a COLA (they don’t in Korea) but they receive no housing allowance.

    I think that this arguing is just what the leftist elitists want us to do.

    Different roles to support the same missions. Different pay and benefits. Different retirement programs. Different rules re: “up or out”. Different rules for time on station. Leaders can and should look at their organizations and see what roles and functions are best handled by a civil service guy, and what is better suited to be handled by a .mil guy.

    No need to argue over who is getting over. Heaven knows since getting out I certainly am not! But I am not complaining, either. I have a lot more options and I am not tied to a rotation schedule or the “up or out” stuff anymore. And my organization can use me like a rented mule for some things which the full time military simply do not possess the experience or the technical skills.

    It’s all good- now, if we can just manage to find the money to keep a good thing going!

  • MCDB
    9:36 pm on February 22nd, 2012 18

    @13, Retired G: I am not for throwing the military under the bus and I am not for cutting pension or else as it was part of the deal made between the military and the government. I know that the military is deserving of care. Seeing my Baby getting deployed in a sand hole in nothing short of crushing. BUT when there is no money, you have to stay within your means.

    My boss does not restrain my salary for fun. We always get the most the company can afford and still show a minimal profit at the end of the year to please the bankers. When there is no money we get no raise or we even get cuts. There is no magic.

    How is the military different?

    (Yes if you care to know I make significantly more than my enlisted wife but my education is not comparable either. When taking into account her pension and medical liabilities she earns a very reasonable living)

    @14: Yes the weak links should be cut to allow the best people to be properly paid but it is not as easy as it sounds. I have seen absurdly inadequate GS work the system for years. I am sure you did too.

    PPS: I also think the salaries of officers are outrageous when looking at the overall compensation package but that’s another discussion ;)

  • Vince
    11:04 pm on February 22nd, 2012 19

    >Yes the weak links should be cut to allow the best people to be properly paid but it is not as easy as it sounds. I have seen absurdly inadequate GS work the system for years. I am sure you did too.<

    That's where leaders and CPOC come in- you can hammer a GS, but you have to follow the rules just like you do in nailing uniformed dirt bags under UCMJ. But you have to learn the rules and follow them.

    And yeah- we ARE out of dough! That is the bottom line….

  • Sturgee
    11:11 pm on February 22nd, 2012 20

    #15 Retired GI – I hear you. I’m not trying to one-up on you either. Just trying to clarify the numbers I used originally, and trying to compare apples to apples. In fact, because of that, I specifically used a scenario (albeit a very realistic and common one), where you have two people of about the same experience, with families, both living off-post in regular apartments/houses and buying groceries. I steered away from the single GI scenario where they get “free” housing and food, as it is near impossible to put a realistic $$ value on that “free” stuff. Instead, I went with what the actual dollar amounts were that a GI with a family would get in allowances to live off-post and pay rent and buy groceries the same as a GS civilian.

    In some cases the GS will end up with more cash at the end of the day, in others the GI does. But in either case, neither ends up with significantly more than the other. I think this holds true across the board, civilian to military, even with officers. If you take a civilian and compare them with a service member with similar education, experience, and responsibility, I’m betting they will end up having relatively similar compensation. Of course an officer makes way more than an enlisted soldier, but they have different education requirements, responsibilities, etc. Is it always fair? Absolutely not, but it is what it is.

    Honestly, I can see a fair argument for some of that discrepancy going away since the enlisted corps is getting higher and higher levels of education on average, thus eliminating that historic belief that officers were “worth” more since they had higher levels of education and leadership training.

    #18 MCDB – I totally agree that it is easier said than done to get rid of dead weight, but not trying doesn’t fix the problem either. I also agree that spending way than you bring in (something our government has become a master at) is BS and needs to stop.

    But, I’ve heard time and again from news media, blogs, etc, about how “overpaid” GS employees are, when in fact many are not. There are some specific categories where government employees make more than their private sector counterparts (high school graduates being one), but overall, if you compare education levels, experience levels, and responsibility levels, government workers tend to earn less than their private sector counterparts. I know that I took a 17% pay cut to take a gov’t job, but I did it because it provided more stability and was a better fit for my family. More info on the true discrepancy between gov’t compensation and private sector can be found at the below links:

  • Vince
    1:19 am on February 23rd, 2012 21

    Here’s a problem too, and many of the guys in other discussions have alluded to it- when there is talk of cutting “dead weight”, it’s usually short term cuts which have long term negative effect which over that long run are not cost effective.

    We’ll cut some of the essential along with the non-essential and we’ll wind up having to rebuild a capability from ground zero later on.

    In many organizations in Korea, the civilian employees, GS and contract, plus repeat tour and return tour military guys are key to continuity.

  • Denny
    12:48 pm on February 23rd, 2012 22

    We’re now paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so…


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