The cost-of-living allowance given to troops in Germany topped the allowance paid to troops in the United Kingdom on Thursday as COLA rates on the Continent seesawed.

A weakening British pound and strengthening euro led the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee to cut the COLA given to U.S. troops in the U.K. at the same time it increased the allowance for those in Germany and in parts of Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. The changes mean that a soldier in Germany will see $50 extra in his pocket, while a servicemember in the U.K. will see $50 less per month.

The committee, which can change COLA rates as often as two times a month, left rates unchanged in most other European locations and at the biggest bases in Italy.

Baffled by the formula used to calculate COLA adjustments, U.K.-based troops said they can’t understand why they get less when the dollar is even weaker against the pound than it is against the euro.

“I don’t know what to say to that. It’s unbelievable,” said Master Sgt. Terrence Banfield, with the 48th Maintenance Operations Squadron at RAF Lakenheath.

“The younger guys are probably going to feel it more than anyone,” he said. “Just taking the family out to McDonald’s costs 20 pounds and that’s $40. It’s gotta be the toughest for them.”

The pound costs about 45 cents more than the euro — the local currency at all other European locations with a large U.S. troop presence. Nevertheless, U.S. troops stationed in Britain now get less money to offset the high costs of living than almost all other troops stationed in Europe.

A euro cost $1.5974 on Wednesday at U.S. bases in mainland Europe, while the pound ran $2.03 at bases in the U.K.

Over the past two months, the average cost of the euro has climbed, while the pound has fallen slightly, according to Federal Reserve Bank of New York data. To the chagrin of U.K.-based troops, that data justifies COLA’s rise in euro countries and its decline in Britain.

COLA rates throughout most of Germany and the U.K. were even through the last 15 days of April, when an E-6 with eight years of service and three dependents received $505 in either country. But with the change, that same troop in Germany gets about $530, while the U.K.-based servicemember gets about $480 through the first 15 days of May.

This is the second time this year that cost-of-living allowances in Germany exceeded those in the U.K. According to per diem committee data, Germany’s rates exceeded U.K. rates five years ago when the pound cost about $1.60 and the euro about $1.12.

Stars and Stripes reporter Charlie Reed contributed to this report.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now