Defense act restructures special pay
December 6, 2003
ARLINGTON, Va. — Some troops pulled away from home — those deployed, TDY, in training, etc. — for long periods of time could receive hundreds of dollars per month more in their paychecks this coming year.
The 2004 Defense Authorization Act, signed into law Nov. 24 by President Bush, changes the allowance amounts paid out for high deployment tempos.
Under the new high-deployment allowance, servicemembers gone for more than 191 consecutive days would receive $200 per month, increasing to $300 if their time away exceeds 211 days.
Spending aggregate days away also pays.
Members who have been away from home for more than 400 days out of any 730 will receive an additional $100 per month; and if gone more than 450 days out of 730, they could receive $300 per month.
Combined with the consecutive days, a servicemember could receive as much as $600 per month above their base pay and other pays.
Under the old system, troops gone for more than 400 days out of the previous 730 days received $100 a day for every day over the 400 threshold.
“The previous per diem plan, designed to encourage commanders to manage the time servicemembers were away from home, was put on hold after Sept. 11, 2001,” said a defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, because of a declaration of national emergency and increased operations, the Defense Department stopped counting the days troops were pulled away from their homes and put on hold doling out the $100 a day payments.
“While our armed forces remain engaged in the war on terrorism, commanders must be allowed to employ the necessary forces to accomplish their missions,” the defense official said.
“For this reason, the accounting of PERSTEMPO days for the purpose of paying high deployers and the management thresholds continue to be on hold until further notice.”
Though the days weren’t counted, DOD continued to require the services to report their members’ PERSTEMPO days. The numbers will be used to “model and evaluate the deployment patterns of our servicemembers,” the official said.
“This will enable the department to estimate future PERSTEMPO and payment patterns.”
Pentagon policies and regulations for how the law will be administered are being developed and will be published shortly after the new year, the official said.
“PERSTEMPO is defined strictly as ‘time away from home.’ There are variations on this theme, for instance sailors and reserve component personnel have special circumstances, depending on what is defined as ‘home,’ but if you can’t return to your pillow at night because of duty requirements, then it counts as a ‘day away’ and a PERSTEMPO day,” Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cynthia Colin said. “Deployments, TDY, training, etc., all count.”
The 191 and 211 number of days became the thresholds for payment based on Navy studies done on deployment patterns, defense officials said.
The Navy was the service with the most instances of long deployments and research indicated 191 days was the limit, with day 211 the next “break point,” officials said.