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U.S. troops in Iraq will keep combat pays

Don’t worry about losing your extra pays and combat zone tax exclusion when combat operations in Iraq officially come to an end.

Starting Sept. 1, the U.S. mission in Iraq will officially change to mentoring Iraqi troops and police, marking a symbolic end to the U.S. combat mission there. Even though the Defense Department has said the move won’t affect troops’ pay, rumors along those lines have persisted, prompting Stars and Stripes to ask the department about this matter.

“Iraq (land and airspace) is included in the list of designated hostile fire or imminent danger pay areas (effective since Sep 17, 1990),” said Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen Lainez in an e-mail. “These pays are based upon a location's designation as a combat zone or direct support area. Therefore, the pays won't change Sept. 1.”

All U.S. troops are slated to leave Iraq by the end of next year under an agreement struck between the U.S. and Iraqi governments in 2008.

Whether some U.S. troops remain in Iraq beyond the end of 2011 could depend on who ultimately emerges as the country’s new prime minister. Iraqi politicians have been deadlocked on forming a new government since March’s parliamentary elections.

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