August 8, 2013
By Col. Mike Hayden,
Pentagon leaders and so-called “think tank experts” have called for a crazy, complete
retirement overhaul criticizing the 20-year retirement as either unaffordable
or unfair to those who leave before that point, or both.
Their points have
gotten traction as a new commission — established as a result of provisions in
the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act and tasked
with reviewing and perhaps overhauling military compensation and retirement
benefits — began its work in July.
As part of its charter, the Military Compensation
and Retirement Modernization Commission’s purpose is to review and make
recommended changes to the compensation and retirement systems to ensure the
long-term viability of the all-volunteer force.
interesting twist is any recommended changes to the retirement system will
grandfather existing retirees and currently serving troops.
You could characterize this as a divide-and-conquer-type
strategy. Eliminate current retirees as well as all the currently serving
troops who intend to stay for a career from the affected pool and you limit the
The commission is running on a short timeline, with quite a
bit of work ahead of it before providing recommendations to the president
by May 1, 2014.
With vast amount of issues to be looked at, there’s a good
chance the commission will dust off recent recommendations on dismantling the
current retirement system for future entrants — for example, the “vesting”
options as proposed by the Defense Business Board and 11th Quadrennial Review
of Military Compensation.
In both of these
proposals, the existing 20-year retirement system would be eliminated or
modified in favor of a 401(k)-like plan to allow vesting and a transportable
career device for those who leave short of 20 years BUT at the expense of those
who stay beyond 20 years.
What kind of crazy retention formula is that? For example,
who, after 10 years of service, four deployments, and three PCS moves, would
stay on active duty for another 10 years or more if they would never see
retired pay or have to wait until age 60 to draw it?
The bottom line: The commission needs to understand the most
important element of national security is the sustainment of a dedicated,
top-quality all-volunteer force. Overhauling retirement — the very system needed
to entice troops to endure levels of sacrifice most citizens are unwilling to
accept for even one tour of duty, let alone for two or three decades — is crazy.
Military Officers Association of Am
Copyright Military Officers Association of America. All rights reserved.