The Defense Department announced plans Friday to cut off imminent danger pay of $7.50 daily up to to $225 per month for servicemembers in nations and areas no longer considered to pose a grave risk.
"We are announcing the recertification of some locations as Imminent Danger Pay areas while we are discontinuing that designation for others," said Army Col. Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.
Under the plan to go into effect June 1, Hazardous Duty/Imminent Danger pay would continue for servicemembers in high risk areas such as Afghanistan, but servicemembers in about one-third of the 59 countries and areas now listed as imminent danger locations would no longer be eligible for the pay.
The danger pay cuts, part of DoD's overall plan to slice personnel costs, would likely hit hardest on thousands of sailors now assigned to ships and ports in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.
Imminent danger pay would be discontinued after June 1 for service in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman and the Red Sea. Airmen flying above the Persian Gulf also would no longer be eligible for danger pay.
Several of the choices for discontinuation were also likely to cause confusion and controversy. For instance, Serbia and Montenegro were discontinued for danger pay while those serving in Athens would continue to receive it. Pentagon officials had no immediate explanation for keeping Athens on the danger pay list.
In 2012, the latest period for which figures were immediately available, about 194,000 servicemembers received danger pay totaling about $500 million, said Pentagon spokesman Warren. The projection was that about 50,000 servicemembers would no longer be eligible for danger pay under the rules for a savings of about $108 million.
Danger pay will remain in effect for Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and Egypt within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility under the new rules, said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen.
No U.S. troops are currently in Syria, but the listing of Syria for danger pay was made as a precaution should the U.S. become involved there, Christensen said.
Danger pay would no longer go to servicemembers in the following locations after June 1:
The land areas and airspace above Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Serbia and Montenegro, and the land areas of East Timor, Haiti, Liberia, Oman, Rwanda, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
In the Africa Command, danger pay will still apply for the land areas of Algeria, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote D'Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Chad.
Danger pay will also continue for the land areas and airspace above Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia.
In the Pacific Command, those serving in the Philippines will still rate danger pay, as well as those in the city of Jakarta, Indonesia, the four Indonesian provinces of central Java, East Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi and Papua, and the Indonesian region of Aceh.
Danger pay goes back to World War II, when the infantry rated an extra $10 a month in what was called "Badge Pay."
In Korea, "Combat Pay" of $45 a month was authorized for troops deployed to the peninsula. Combat Pay expired with the Korean armistice of 1953 but resurfaced in 1963 as "Hostile Fire Pay" of $55 a month for Vietnam.