Extra-pay program in limbo in S. Korea
SEOUL — The U.S. Army is trying to decide what to do with a program that lets soldiers extend their assignments in South Korea for extra pay, following a decision earlier this month to normalize tours on the peninsula, an 8th Army spokesman said Tuesday.
"We don’t have an answer yet" about the future of the Assignment Incentive Pay, Lt. Col. Jeff Buczkowski said.
AIP offers soldiers an extra $300 a month to stay in South Korea for an extra year, and $400 a month to stay in South Korea for an extra two years. The program was intended to save money and minimize disruptions caused by the rapid turnover of personnel, most of whom are stationed in South Korea on one-year unaccompanied tours.
U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Walter Sharp announced a tour normalization policy last week that eventually will allow about half of USFK’s 28,500 troops to bring their families to South Korea on two- and three-year tours.
Only 2,100 servicemembers are in South Korea on command-sponsored tours now, but that number is expected to triple in the next year.
All military services are required to submit to the Department of Defense by March their plans for implementing the longer tours.
Buczkowski said the services are supposed to address AIP in those plans.
In South Korea, 3,960 soldiers and 502 airmen are enrolled in AIP, USFK spokesman Dave Palmer said. Each service oversees its own AIP program, and figures for the other services were not available, he said.
Eligible sailors can earn as much as $450 per month through AIP, but Marines are capped at $166 per month, Palmer said.
AIP has saved the military $64.7 million since it began in December 2004, Palmer said. The program is reviewed each fiscal year, with the last review ending in October, he said.