National News

July 10, 2013

AP NewsBreak: Pentagon eyes cuts in danger pay

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is eyeing plans to eliminate danger pay for service members in as many as 18 countries and five waterways around the world, saving about $120 million each year while taking a bite out of troops’ salaries, The Associated Press has learned.

Senior defense and military leaders are expected to meet later this week to review the matter and are poised to approve a new plan. Pentagon press secretary George Little declined to discuss details but said no final decisions have been made.

Senior military leaders came up with the proposed list of locations in their regions that no longer were perilous enough to warrant danger pay, including several countries in the heart of the tumultuous Middle East, such as Jordan, where hundreds of troops have recently deployed because of the bloody Syrian civil war on its border.

Defense officials said the proposal would strip the stipend — which can be up to $225 per month — from as many as 56,000 service members, including thousands stationed in Kuwait, which was a key hub during the Iraq war. It also would affect thousands of sailors who routinely travel through the Persian Gulf region on ships or airmen who fly over the Gulf.

The $225 monthly cut in pay would come regardless of the service member’s base salary, which can range from a low of roughly $18,000 a year for a brand new recruit to a high of nearly $235,000 a year for a four-star general with more than 40 years in the military. Troops also can receive a variety of other allowances for housing, clothing or job specialties.

Defense officials described the proposal on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about it.

Under the plans being discussed, troops would still receive the extra money if they serve in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The U.S. does not have any military members now serving in Iran.

Some of the countries that could likely be dropped from the list include Bahrain, where the Navy’s 5th Fleet is located; Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Liberia, Haiti and several former Soviet republics.

Officials have argued that if service members are allowed to bring their families with them for assignments in places like Bahrain, then it is difficult to argue that they should receive danger pay.

The list has routinely evolved over many years, with countries added as they became more dangerous hotspots. And military leaders do periodic reviews of the list.

While the changes are based solely on the security review, the cuts also come as the Pentagon is under growing pressure to slash its budget, and as more than 650,000 civilians began taking the first of their 11 required days off without pay through the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said earlier this week that the fiscal pressures and congressional gridlock have led to far more abrupt and steeper cuts than expected. He noted that if Congress does not find a way to avoid the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, the department will have to find $52 billion in additional savings next year.

So far, the danger pay decision does not affect the tax-free status of service members’ pay when serving in those countries or on ships in the Gulf region.

Under existing Defense Department rules, military troops serving in as many as two dozen different nations as well as the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden have been able to receive the imminent danger pay. Until early 2012, they received the full monthly amount — $225 at the time — for any complete or partial month they served in any of the qualifying areas.

Beginning Feb. 1, 2012, troops received pro-rated payments of $7.50 for each day they were on official duty in one of the areas.

The total cost has been about $500 million per year.

Officials also said the proposed changes do not affect hostile fire pay.  Service members who are exposed to a hostile fire or hostile mine explosion event are eligible to receive a full monthly payment of $225. But they can’t receive both danger pay and hostile fire pay for the same month.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • 10 Things to Know for Thursday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday.

    April 23, 2014

  • US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

    The Justice Department is encouraging nonviolent federal inmates who have behaved in prison, have no significant criminal history and have already served more than 10 years behind bars to apply for clemency, officials announced Wednesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • High court tosses $3.4M award to child porn victim

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea to make it easier for victims of child pornography to collect money from people who view their images online, throwing out a nearly $3.4 million judgment in favor of a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet. Two dissenting justices said Congress should change the law to benefit victims.

    April 23, 2014

  • Airport security vulnerabilities not uncommon

    For all the tens of billions of dollars that the nation has spent on screening passengers and their bags, few airports made a comparable investment to secure the airplanes themselves.

    April 23, 2014

  • Deal signs bill expanding gun rights in Georgia

    Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation expanding where people with licenses to carry can bring their guns in Georgia.

    April 23, 2014

  • Indian film awards arrive in Tampa, Fla., but why?

    The so-called Bollywood Oscars have been held in Macau, Singapore, London — and now, Tampa?

    April 23, 2014

  • Indictment: Prosecutor targeted in kidnapping plot

    A North Carolina prosecutor was the intended target of an elaborate kidnapping plot, but the kidnappers looked up the wrong address on the Internet and abducted the prosecutor’s father instead, according to an indictment released Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Republican activists push party on gay marriage

    As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader campaign to get the GOP to appeal to younger voters by de-emphasizing social issues.

    April 23, 2014

  • Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying

    Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday only a few miles from the farm where prosecutors say he orchestrated the 1993 killing of a couple whose cows he wanted to steal.

    April 23, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Wednesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday.

    April 22, 2014

AP Video