Defense bill's targeted pay raises aim to help retain more senior enlisted personnel, warrant officers
(Click here for a look at the projected military pay chart)
WASHINGTON — When President Bush signs the 2007 Defense Authorization bill into law in the next few days, all troops will see a 2.2 percent bump in their paychecks next year.
But for a lucky few, that won’t be the only new money they’ll see in 2007.
Part of the $533 billion authorization bill outlines targeted pay raises designed to help retain more senior enlisted personnel and warrant officers. That additional money will kick in April 1, on top of the 2.2 percent raise on Jan. 1.
For E-5s through E-7s with more than 12 years in service, altogether the boost will be about 4 percent from their 2006 paychecks. Lower-ranked warrant officers with only a few years service will generally see the same increases.
But the most senior warrant officers will see even bigger jumps. W-3s with 20 years service, for example, will see an 8.5 percent increase over last year’s pay. W-1s with 16 years will see a 10.2 percent increase, and those with 26 years will see a nearly 14 percent raise, the highest of all the targeted increases.
For the rest of the active-duty force, the 2.2 percent pay raise is the lowest they have seen since 1994.
Earlier in the year House members had pushed for a 2.7 percent pay increase — that would have meant an extra $6 a month for the youngest enlisted troops — but the Senate, the Defense Department and the president all opposed the extra $300 million such a move would cost.
The authorization bill, along with the already-approved 2007 Defense Appropriations bill, sets next year’s military spending. Together they outline more than $70 billion for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and at least $378 billion more for general defense operations.
Here’s a look at other winners and losers in the budget bills:
WinnersDeployed troops: The bill earmarks more than $2 billion for new efforts to combat roadside bombs. And troops serving in combat zones will see their Servicemembers Group Life Insurance fully subsidized from now on (a full $400,000, instead of just $150,000), saving them $16.25 a month.
Unofficial recruiters: The Army will increase its bonus for soldiers who persuade someone to join the service from $1,000 to $2,000. The payout is available for any recruit outside a soldier’s immediate family. Half will be awarded when the recruit shows up for basic training, half when the new soldier finishes it.
Troops with paycheck errors: New regulations forbid defense officials from taking more than 20 percent of a single paycheck to recover overpayments resulting from Pentagon pay system mistakes.
Honor guards: Over defense officials’ objections, Congress required the remains of troops killed overseas to be transported to their final destination via military aircraft, instead of the current policy of using commercial flights.
LosersGuard advocates: A proposal to elevate the chief of the National Guard to a four-star general was shuffled out of this bill and into a study committee, as was another plan to give the Guard more autonomy in budget and equipment requests. The Defense Department said such a move would complicate the chain of command.
Payday lenders: Despite strong industry objections, Congress placed a 36 percent cap on the annual percentage rate of any loan, regardless of its timeframe. Industry officials had said projecting out a two-week loan over 52 weeks can result in APRs well above 800 percent, but insisted that’s misleading.
Proponents of more medals: After complaints from the military, Congress dropped plans for a medal to honor all troops who served during the Cold War and backed off plans to award Purple Hearts to POWs who die in captivity.
Snail-mail users: Congress dropped a proposal to provide one postal voucher per month to family members of troops serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Defense officials opposed it because it would “increase the strain on limited ground and airlift resources.”
Marines: The House had pushed to rename the Navy as “the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps,” but Senate officials passed on the issue.