Army explains Iraq extension bonuses
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon is offering $1,000 monthly bonuses for all 20,000 soldiers whose tours in Iraq and Kuwait have been extended beyond a year, according to Army officials.
Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, leader of the Army Reserve, outlined the basics of the payment to Stars and Stripes on Thursday, and Army personnel spokesman Lt. Col. Franklin Childress added details Friday.
The $1,000 bonus was spelled out in a memorandum recently signed by Charles S. Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Childress said.
According to the memo, the extension bonus is reserved for “military members who are in a unit currently deployed in Iraq that the combatant commander (Gen. John Abizaid) has determined will be required to remain in Iraq beyond the normal 12-month rotation return date.”
Although the memo doesn’t explicitly mention Kuwait, the bonus will be extended to the approximately 704 soldiers in 10 units stationed in Kuwait who were on a list of extended units issued Thursday by the Pentagon, Childress said, in addition to the approximately 17,096 soldiers who have been extended in Iraq.
The bonus kicks in as soon as a soldier has spent more than 365 days in Iraq, Kuwait or both — either as 12 consecutive months, or a total of 12 months out of 15 months, Childress said.
The payments will appear as two payments on soldiers’ Leave and Earning Statement.
First, soldiers will receive an extra $200 each month in Extra Hardship Duty Pay, in addition to the $100 per month EHDP payment soldiers in Iraq already receive.
The other $800 of the bonus will be listed as Assignment Incentive Pay, or AIP, Childress said.
Like salaries and other bonuses earned in combat zones, the $1,000 is tax-free, Childress said.
Although the bonus is “effective immediately,” according to Helmly, the Army has not yet released an official “MILPERS” message that spells out the precise implementation orders. Childress said personnel officials are working on the message, but did not know when it will be posted.