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COLA increase coming to Bahrain

By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 7, 2016

MANAMA, Bahrain — Servicemembers in Bahrain will see an increase in their overseas cost-of-living allowance starting March 16.

The increase will range from “$4 to $18 plus per day based on rank, years of service and number of dependents,” said a post on Naval Support Activity Bahrain’s Facebook page.

For example, an E-4 with four years’ service and no dependents who lives off base would receive an estimated increase of $225.99 per month.

The COLA increase comes after servicemembers living in Bahrain completed a voluntary overseas living pattern survey, which “captures input from servicemembers and their families to establish where and how they purchase goods and services,” the Defense Travel Management Office said on its website.

More people in Bahrain took the latest survey, which began Feb. 1, in the first 24 hours than over the entire survey period when it was last conducted three years ago, Naval Support Activity Bahrain commander Capt. Cory R. Howes told a town hall meeting last week. He said a survey would normally run for a month.

After the first week, the survey had received 150 percent of the required number of responses to be considered valid, Howes said. Because of the overwhelming response, the decision was made to close the survey early in hopes the accelerated process could lead to getting a possible COLA increase a pay cycle sooner.

The living pattern survey, which is conducted every three years, and the yearly retail price schedule, which collects market basket prices of about 120 goods and services, are combined to determine a relative cost of living overseas compared to living in the continental United States.

The Defense Travel Management Office website will update March 14 to reflect Bahrain’s new rates, according to Naval Support Activity Bahrain’s Facebook post. Servicemembers can then go to http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/colaCalc.cfm to calculate their new rates.

church.chris@stripes.com

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