Airmen and Guardians across North Dakota, Montana, Alaska Can Now Get Cold Weather Pay

Editor’s Note: This story was updated April 5 to correct the pay amounts for those with and without dependents.

The Department of the Air Force will offer supplemental pay to Airmen and Guardians who endure harsh winter conditions to incentivize assignments at certain bases and offset the financial challenges from living at temperatures below -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Effective April 1, the department’s Cold Weather Assignment Incentive Pay offers a one-time payment to Airmen and Guardians upon committing to serve one to three years at certain locations. The amount, ranging from $500 to $5,000, is regardless of rank or the nature of individual’s assignment, Air Force spokesperson Sarah Fiocco told Air & Space Forces Magazine. The initial payment is slated for July 1, but any troops signing an agreement to relocate to designated sites starting April 1 will qualify for the incentive.

According to the service release, qualified locations include:

  • Minot and Grand Forks Air Force Bases and Cavalier Space Force Station in North Dakota
  • Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.
  • Clear Space Force Station, Eielson Air Force Base, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.

Fiocco added that while these locations were chosen based on the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone specified in the fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, other U.S. Air Force sites in foreign countries are currently undergoing a separate review.

LevelTemperatureWithout DependentsWith DependentsLocations
Level 1Above -20℉ with additional substantiating need$500$1,000N/A
Level 2-20℉ through -29℉$1,000$2,000Minot, Grand Forks, and Malmstrom AFBs, Cavalier SFS and JB Elmendorf-Richardson
Level 3-30℉ through -39℉$1,500$3,000N/A
Level 4-40℉ through -49℉$2,000$4,000 (tour is unaccompanied for Clear SFS)Eielson AFB and Clear SFS
Level 5-50℉ and below$2,500$5,000

“Airmen and Guardians living in extremely cold conditions face unique out-of-pocket costs,” Alex Wagner, assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs in a statement. “We want to ensure Airmen, Guardians and their families have the resources needed to safely live and work in an extreme cold-weather environment.”

For deployments to Alaska, Airmen and Guardians have to commit to 12 months at Clear. Individuals without dependents need to sign up for at least a 24-month tour at Eielson and Elmendorf, while those with a family have to stay for 36 months, Fiocco said.

In 2022, Congress passed legislation authorizing but not requiring cold weather incentive pay for the military, spearheaded by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), with the aim of addressing mental health for troops stationed in Alaska. Although the FY23 NDAA included a provision for the service to provide Arctic Incentive Pay, no additional measures had been taken under this initiative, prompting lawmakers to urge Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall in March to begin implementing the compensation for service members.

Since 2020, the Army has been offering a one-time payment of $1,000 to $4,000 called Remote and Austere Conditions Assignment Incentive Pay for soldiers serving in Alaska. With its new move, the Air Force is now also hoping to alleviate the financial burden of purchasing cold weather essentials such as gear, all-season or snow tires, engine block heaters, and emergency winter car kits.

“Anybody that has purchased a North Face jacket knows just how expensive it is to dress for winter,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), said in a statement. “I’m grateful to see this cold weather pay roll out to make these winters a little less expensive and stressful for our servicemen and women who are stationed here in North Dakota and already sacrificing so much to stand in the gap for our freedom.”