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ARLINGTON, Va. — Guard and Reserve troops’ pay issues will be a primary focus as well as a daunting challenge for a new task force reviewing military pay issues, its members said Tuesday.

Reserve components are deployed almost as frequently as their active-duty counterparts in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet “the pay structures are so different between the active and the reserve,” said retired Navy Adm. Donald Pilling, chairman of the new defense advisory committee on military compensation.

“We are asking [the reserves components] to do things that most of them had no idea we would ever ask them to do,” Pilling said. “We want to make sure they are adequately compensated.”

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld chartered the committee in early spring, directing its members to come up with recommendations for improving the Pentagon’s military compensation system.

The committee, which met publicly for the first time May 11, will issue recommendations to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld by late September, and a final report due in April 2006.

The compensation committee is focusing on five categories: special and incentive pays; retirement pay, including pensions and medical benefits; Guard and Reserve compensation; medical benefits for serving forces; and family issues, such as housing and spouse employment opportunities.

In addition to Guard and Reserve pay issues, medical benefits will also be difficult to tackle, Pilling said.

“My personal option is that we won’t do much on medical care because it’s so complex,” Piling said. “But we have to address it, [because future costs] are so huge.”

Medical care already accounts for three to four percent of the entire Department of Defense budget, Pilling said.

And by 2009, experts have predicted medical costs will consume as much as 11 percent of the Pentagon’s annual budget.

Pilling, who retired as vice chief of naval operations in 2000, is now president and chief operating officer of the Logistics Management Institute in McLean, Va.

In addition to Pilling, the committee has six members, including John White, former Deputy Secretary of Defense, and retired Air Force Gen. Lester Lyles, who was once in charge of 80,000 civil and military employees as commander of the Air Force Material Command.

The compensation committee meets two days each month, Pilling told Stripes, with each get-together including both administrative and public sessions.

The next public meeting will be held July 7 in Washington, D.C., Pilling said.

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