The Pentagon is looking to sharply slash troop benefits in its new budget, which would be in effect from 2016-2020.
The Daily Caller reports
that the previous lowering of a 1.8 percent pay raise to just one percent in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, a drop in housing allowances by five percent and an increase in co-pays for pharmaceuticals leaves "some troops (feeling) betrayed and frustrated, mainly because they're just finished fighting the longest war in the nation's history."
Defense Department spokesman Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban told The Hill
: "We have and will continue to look at ways to slow the growth of compensation. I would expect these efforts to continue to some degree in the 2016 Defense budget."
"Not only has the rate of growth for personnel compensation growth slowed — it has gone negative for the last three years, from 2011 on," retired Navy Adm. Norb Ryan, president of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), complained to The Hill.
While a Congressional commission on military compensation reform will submit a report by Feb. 1, the Pentagon will not include the commission's recommendations in the budget request it submits to the White House, which then will be submitted to Congress in March. Congress and the White House will consider the commission's suggestions in their deliberation on passing the final budget, The Hill notes.
"It is our hope that recommendations will be considered during the budget season," James Graybeal, spokesman for the commission, told The Hill.
One possible cost-cutting solution suggested has been the switching of some military active duty, retired personnel and dependents on Tricare, the military's health insurance plan, to Obamacare, Military Times reports
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said: "Adjustments are going to have to be made because if they're not made down into the future then we will essentially end up with a hollow force. We will have a lot of benefits and pay, but there'll be no money for readiness," The Hill reported.
However, further cuts are unlikely to go over well with America's troops or Congress.
"Military groups also reject the Pentagon’s argument that there is a trade-off involving 'benefits versus bullets,' " The Hill notes. "They say officials are simply going after 'low-hanging fruit' in the face of overall budget cuts."
Retired Army Col. Mike Barron of MOAA told The Hill: "The easiest thing for them to go after is pay, benefits, compensation."
Sen. John McCain, R-Az., likely the next chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Military Times
: "Much of this is the responsibility of Congress — namely, the irresponsible and devastating sequestration cuts imposed last year. Repealing defense sequestration is among my top priorities in the new Congress.
"The growing dissatisfaction among the all-volunteer force during this administration is cause for grave concern and requires immediate attention and action by the commander in chief, senior Defense Department leaders and the U.S. Congress."
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