July 30, 2013
By Charles Zuckerman
As the Department of Defense grapples with sequestration-related cuts, one of the most controversial suggested spending reductions concerns reducing the annual pay raise given to active duty troops. Specifically, the White House and Pentagon have suggested implementing a 1 percent pay raise, which is slightly lower than the 1.8 percent recommended by Congress, and consistent with the growth in private sector wages. Lawmakers and officials have fallen on both sides of the debate, and Army chief of staff General Ray Odierno recently came out in support of the lower raises, Military Times reports.
Odierno was fielding questions at a recent event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, and said that some changes are necessary as the DOD looks to trim spending in the coming years. Specifically, he said that even a slight decrease to the annual pay raises received by active duty troops could have a substantial impact on how much the Pentagon spends from year to year.
"That sounds like a little difference but it is a huge difference throughout the years," Odierno told the gathered audience, as quoted by the news source. "It's billions of dollars ... three, four, five years from now. So we think what we can do is manage the pay raises at a bit lower level for a few years."
Whether or not Odierno's suggestions are taken to heart remains to be seen, however. In fact, legislators are largely at odds with one another, with members of the House and Senate unable to come to an agreement on what level the pay raise should be at. On Tuesday, the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee voted down the House plan, which had included the 1.8 percent raise. Instead, the Senate panel crafted a plan that would implement a 1 percent hike starting Jan 1., Air Force Times reports.