What’s next for military pay and benefits?

My last post was about the impending — and expected — drawdown of the military.  The United States is following the path of many other western nations as they shed soldiers and sailors in an effort to curtail the expense of national treasure and return their armed forces to the size they deem more appropriate for a post-war world.

It does make sense.  After all, standing armies, navies, and air forces are extremely expensive and tough to justify in times of peace (or at least of times of non-war, which seems to be a more apropos description of the 21st century age in which we live).  It has all happened before, and it will surely happen again.

For those who remain in uniform, however, things may well be changing as well.  The Department of Defense is considering pretty much any idea or option that comes to the table in terms of reigning in the costs of personnel, consume about a quarter of the DOD budget.  Various studies and commissions have examined the issue of military and military retiree compensation, and with the austerity brought on by the economy and sequestration such benefits come under greater scrutiny.

One of the latest efforts is the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, a congressionally mandated effort to determine the “long term viability” of  military compensation (for more information, read today’s Stars and Stripes coverage of the commission here).  All things considered, looking under the hood of the military compensation machine is not in and of itself a bad thing.  It happens after every war, but this time the scalpels are sharp and the desire to perform some cost cutting surgery is possibly stronger than ever.

Efforts to change pension benefits, pay structures for serving personnel, medical coverage for retirees, and countless other benefits have been in the news lately and the new congressional panel is yet another bureaucratic mechanic crowded under the hood of the machine trying to dismantle what they can.

As I wrote earlier, a reasonable review is perfectly appropriate as the wars draw to a close.  The moral imperative of meeting the obligations of the nation to those who serve it, however, should be paramount in any discussion about tinkering with or cutting compensation.

I sincerely hope that the commission keeps that in mind.

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