Pay Debate Must Be Over

The Pentagon’s commission reviewing military compensation believes that current military pay is competitive with the civilian sector, agreeing with a Congressional Budget Office report issued last summer. Like CBO, the just issued 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation report recommends that comparisons should include more than the standard Regular Military Compensation (basic pay, housing and subsistence allowances, and federal tax breaks). The Pentagon commission recommends including RMC, health care, retirement, and state and local tax advantages, or what’s called Military Annual Compensation, as the basis for future comparisons, without it, says the QRMC report, the result is “an incomplete analysis that substantially understates the value” of the military compensation package. With it, says QRMC, the military can show that it provides a “much more generous” package relative to civilian compensation. According to the report, using MAC, the average enlisted member earned about $10,600 more in 2006 than a civilian counterpart; a typical officer received $17,800 more. The 10th QRMC commissioners, who began their work in 2006, also recommend an overhaul of the special and incentive pay system, consolidating more than 60 pays into eight broad categories that would provide the services the “flexibility to allocate resources to those areas that would most effectively and efficiently meet staffing needs.”