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Sept 28, 2012

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Fact vs. Fiction on Military Personnel Costs (Part 5). Here’s the final excerpt from an upcoming Military Officer magazine article examining Pentagon claims that your pay and benefits will break the bank.
Senators Pledge Support for “Balanced” Sequestration Fix. Three Senate Republicans and three Democrats have written Senate leaders to pledge their support for a “balanced, bipartisan” solution to avoid sequestration-driven across-the-board defense cuts.
What Do You Know? How much do you know about military retirement? Take our latest quiz below!

Fact vs. Fiction on Military Personnel Costs (Part 5)
This is the final preview of a November Military Officer magazine article in which MOAA’s Government Relations staff examines Defense leaders’ assertions that your pay and benefits will break the Pentagon bank. This week we wrap up by emphasizing the importance of preserving the All-Volunteer force

Keeping Faith with the All-Volunteer Force

The last decade of war proved no federal obligation is more important than protecting national security.

And the most important element of national security element is sustainment of a dedicated, top-quality career military force. That reality is underscored by consistent surveys showing our armed forces are America’s most-respected public institution.

The last decade of unprecedented demands and sacrifices only further highlights how radically different military service conditions are from civilian work life.

Budget critics persist in asserting military pay, retirement, and health care benefits are unsustainable and should be slashed to more closely resemble civilian benefit packages.

But decades of such dire predictions proved consistently wrong. On the contrary, these crucial career incentives have sustained a strong national defense through more severe and protracted wartime conditions then even the strongest proponents of the all-volunteer force thought it could survive.

In fact, the only times it has been jeopardized were when budget concerns imposed significant cutbacks in the military compensation package.

Congress’ consistent corrective actions in those cases recognized that the cost of sustaining the current military career incentive package is far more acceptable and affordable than the alternative.

America will remain the world’s greatest superpower only as long as it continues to fulfill its reciprocal obligation to the only weapon system that has never let our country down – our extraordinarily dedicated, top-quality all-volunteer career force.

And you can take that to the bank.

(Look for the full article in the November issue of Military Officer magazine. You can read the previous installments online at the links below.)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

 Senators Pledge Support for “Balanced” Sequestration Fix
Six Senate Democrats and Republicans have signed a joint letter to Senate leaders, saying they are “committed to working together to help forge a balanced bipartisan deficit reduction package to avoid damage to our national security, important domestic priorities, and our economy.”

The September 24 letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and was signed by Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), Ranking Minority Member John McCain (R-AZ), and Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).
“Sequestration will endanger the lives of America's service members, threaten our national security, and impact vital domestic programs and services. Meeting this challenge will require real compromise, and we do not believe that Congress and the president can afford to wait until January to begin to develop a short term or long term sequestration alternative,” the letter concluded.
“All ideas should be put on the table and considered. Accordingly, we urge you to press between now and November the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation to score any bipartisan proposals forwarded to them so that Congress may evaluate these plans.
“We believe it is important to send a strong signal of our bipartisan determination to avoid or delay sequestration and the resulting major damage to our national security, vital domestic priorities, and our economy.”
Will that be enough to convince Senate (and House) leaders to put partisan differences aside long enough to develop alternative legislation to stop the sequestration disaster before the first of the year?

We can only hope so.

 What Do You Know?
How much do you know about military retirement? Take our short quiz below!

1. How many military retirees were there in 1900?

A. 6,307
B. 103,314
C. 3,209

Answer: C. There were only 3,209 military retirees in the year 1900. By 1950, the number had risen to 132,828. In 2000, the number was 1,701,218, and stood at 1, 932,928 at the end of FY2011.

2. What has been the average annual Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) increase since 1930?

A. 2.5%
B. 3.25%
C. 3.90%

Answer: B. Since 1963, the CPI has been used to determine annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). The DoD Actuary projects that future COLAs will average 3.0% over the long term.