Jump Policy Update Ensures Paratroopers Maintain Hazardous-Duty Pay

 The skies of northern Italy are filled with paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade as hundreds of paratroopers conduct a tactical airborne insertion onto Juliet Drop Zone on Jan. 24, 2018. Lt. Col. John Hall/Army
The skies of northern Italy are filled with paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade as hundreds of paratroopers conduct a tactical airborne insertion onto Juliet Drop Zone on Jan. 24, 2018. Lt. Col. John Hall/Army

Paratroopers who miss a jump within the required three-month time frame because aircraft aren't available or other unforeseen circumstances can make it up and still receive parachute hazardous-duty pay, according to a revamped Department of Defense instruction.

The change will allow paratroopers to keep their pay when circumstances out of their control prevent them from performing jumps. Paratroopers are required to jump once every three months as a standard for remaining proficient on airborne operations.

The change was recommended by Maj. Gen. Erik Kurilla, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, and approved last month by the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

Airborne leaders also are discussing a possible increase in compensation for jump masters, who inspect paratrooper equipment and lead aircraft actions during airborne operations.

Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Albertson, of the 18th Airborne Corps that oversees the 82nd Airborne Division, said the change has been in the works for about a year.

"I think it is absolutely something that leaders have noticed," he said. "As we started assessing, we saw these [parachute hazardous-duty pay] rules hadn't been updated for some time."

Paratroopers must jump once every three months and are compensated with $150 per month in hazardous-duty pay, which is automatically dispensed.

Under the old rule, if a paratrooper missed a jump in that period -- regardless of the reason -- the pay had to be returned to the government.

The rule remained the same for more than 60 years. That meant soldiers lost pay for not jumping, even if jumps were missed for deployments.

"What wasn't taken into account is how busy the Army is," Albertson said. "There's so many places around the world we're supporting, so to have soldiers lose pay ... we need to balance staying proficient with the airborne skill set and supporting mission requirements."

The updated instruction gives battalion commanders leeway to make exceptions to the three-month rule so paratroopers can continue to collect monthly parachute hazardous duty.

Now, paratroopers can jump twice during a six-month period, including two jumps within the same month to keep pay for two consecutive, three-month periods if there are waivers for nonavailability of aircraft, adverse weather, absence for military training or education for less than 179 days, combat operations or a deployment. In lieu of jumping, paratroopers must attend airborne refresher training during the waived period to maintain proficiency.

"We're looking to do our best to maintain our readiness and not have them unduly be penalized for [missing jumps]," Albertson said.

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This article is written by Amanda Dolasinski from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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