Slowing the Cost of Military Pay and Benefits

Military pay and benefits, including health care, have risen more than 87 percent since 2001, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel. That’s 30 percent higher than inflation, although the Defense Department’s overall active duty end strength grew only by three percent during that same time period, said Hale in testimony last week. He said Pentagon officials “strongly believe” that changes—such as slowing the rate of growth in military pay raises and revising the cost-sharing formula for health care—are necessary to curb those costs. Should Congress not support DOD’s suggested changes, the Pentagon “will face a major problem that would jeopardize our defense strategy,” warned Hale. Already DOD has proposed end strength reductions of some 124,000 across the active duty and reserve components by Fiscal 2017 to help absorb the spending cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act. Absent the congressional support, the Pentagon would have to make additional cuts in much-needed investments or shed another 60,000 troops by Fiscal 2017 to compensate, asserted Hale. (Hale’s prepared testimony)