May 15, 2014
By Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret)
There’s no doubt sequestration places uniformed
service leaders in a difficult position, a position MOAA believes, if
continued, would put national security at risk.
Sequestration has the Pentagon uniformed and
civilian leaders attempting to balance a budget that is taking a topline cut of
$1 trillion over 10 years. Based on that burden, the Pentagon has put
everything on the table to find savings — including the pay and benefits needed
to sustain the all-volunteer force.
In a May 6 hearing, the Joint Chiefs testified side-by-side
before the full Senate Armed Services Committee and unanimously defended pay
and benefits proposals that “slow the growth” of personnel cost growth by
shifting costs onto currently serving members and retirees and their families.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin
Dempsey told the senators, “We've been tasked to reduce the defense budget by
up to $1 trillion over 10 years while upholding our sacred obligation to
properly train, equip, and prepare the force."
Dempsey said all of the Joint Chiefs and all of the
services' senior enlisted leaders support the proposals to “rebalance military
But do the troops?
Several defense leaders in separate hearings said
the servicemembers they’ve talked to are willing to accept pay and benefit
changes as long as they can get the training and equipment needed to do their
This feedback flies in the face of recent survey
So who are these defense leaders talking to and what
does the survey say? It appears they are not talking to servicemembers and
their families who are taking online surveys.
MOAA conducted a compensation survey in March. Of the
4,700 currently serving members who responded, more than 65 percent indicated
they were least satisfied with their basic pay.
In a survey conducted by The
Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation
of Post-9/11 veterans and currently serving members, 83 percent indicated they
do not favor the Pentagon’s FY 2015 proposals to cap pay, cut commissary
benefits, and increase housing and health care costs.
A survey conducted by Military.com
found 90 percent of active duty servicemembers rejected the proposed changes to
pay and benefits issued by the Pentagon.
The Association of the United
States Navy (AUSN) also conducted a poll. In the same hearing where the Joint
Chiefs testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, AUSN President Vice
Adm. John Totushek, USN (Ret), said their survey found the same results as
"We did a recent
study basically asking people to tell us what they thought about the impending
changes, and 90 percent of them didn't like what was being proposed,"
Totushek said. "What the chiefs are hearing might not be what's really
Former U.S. Rep. and
retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West, who sat on the House Armed Services
Subcommittee on Military Personnel, called the Pentagon’s pay and benefit
proposals “quite disturbing,” and continued, “We should not be forcing
our men and women in uniform to choose between a paycheck and training.”
The bottom line: What does the survey
say? MOAA believes it’s pretty clear servicemembers and their families do not
support these proposals. Fortunately, the House Armed Services Committee feels
the same way.
Reject Budget Driven Cuts to Pay and Benefits
Act Now! Send a MOAA-suggested message to your legislators asking them to reject these short-sighted, budget-driven cuts to pay and benefits.