Trimming military retiree benefits may be needed, but it shouldn’t be done hastily or in a way that breaks promises the Defense Department has already made, Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday. “We believe changes to our retirement plan, if appropriate, should only be made after the (Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission) takes a holistic look at the many variables involved,” said Winnefeld. The controversial budget measure that cuts retiree’s cost-of-living adjustments, saving an estimated $6 billion, “has clearly led to considerable and understandable anxiety among those who are currently retired or who are planning for retirement,” he acknowledged. “I want to make it clear that Chairman (of the Joint Chiefs Army Gen. Martin) Dempsey and I and the service chiefs and senior enlisted leaders support grandfathering any changes to our retirement structure,” stressed Winnefeld. “The current CPI-1 provision does not fit within that principal.” Asked by legislators to propose $6 billion of in-house savings to “offset” repealing the measure, acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine Fox said cuts to military healthcare and retirement were really the only options. She said DOD has “proposed changes to Tricare for life that would contribute, but not cover a $6 billion bill.” (AFPS report)
Changes are coming this year for Airmen taking professional military education (PME) distance learning courses. Closer interactions with facilitators, a revised capstone course, and more feedback on test performance are meant to improve the overall experience for distance learning students, who often include members of the Air National Guard.