More Money for Troops

The House Armed Services military personnel panel on May 12 opted to ignore Pentagon pleas not to increase military pay beyond the Administration request for 2011, adding 0.5 percent to the Administration’s 1.4 percent during budget markup. Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale in February noted that adding another 0.5 percent would deprive the Pentagon of about $500 million it needs to sustain troop readiness. Defense Secretary Bob Gates, in his May 8 Kansas “cut overhead” speech, acknowledged that lawmakers simply want “to take good care of our troops” when they “routinely” add this extra half percent. Panel chair Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) maintained the bump would simply “further reduce” the military-private sector pay gap. Ranking member Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) derided “the assertion that personnel costs are crowding out other priorities” and said budget woes “should not be solved by asking military personnel to take less.” (Davis opening remarks; Wilson opening remarks)