Guest Blog by the Military Officers Association of America -
Over the past several months, the Pentagon has adopted a new budget-cutting catch phrase: “Slow the growth.”
Don’t sugarcoat it. Call it what it is — extended pay caps.
On his recent trip to South Korea, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey spoke before a U.S. Forces Korea town hall meeting and said when it comes to pay and benefits, “… we have to slow the growth.”In September, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James Winnefeld spoke before the Air Force Association conference about slowing the growth, saying, “While everyone here would agree that our magnificent men and women in uniform deserve more than the average bear, we simply cannot sustain our recent growth trajectory in pay and benefits and expect to preserve a properly sized, trained, and equipped force.”
Also that month, Under Secretary of Defense Robert Hale, the Pentagon’s comptroller, bluntly laid out harsh budget cut plans before members of the Reserve Forces Policy Board, citing what lies ahead based on continuing the devastating and harmful effects of sequestration.
During this discussion, Hale used the same catchy phrase when speaking about proposals to limit future pay raises, saying, “As we look out right now — even in a period when unemployment improves — it appears to us that our compensation package is sufficient to let us to do that and we could slow the growth ... not cut pay, but slow the growth.”
When the Pentagon submitted the FY 2014 budget in April, the submission included the following statement:
If we do not slow the growth in military compensation, the DoD will have to make additional force structure reductions, which would harm military capability and undermine the national security strategy, or make further cuts to funds for training and equipping our forces resulting in a “hollow-force” unable to win wars and minimize casualties. As one Marine in Afghanistan put it — “the best quality of life is coming home alive.”
Unfortunately, this statement pits weapons systems against the very men and women who operate them, as if the weapon system will save readiness. What ensures that our men and women in uniform come home safely is the experienced, mid-level NCO or officer. A compensation package that keeps pay compatible with the private sector is needed to sustain that very weapon system.
What does “slow the growth” mean? Well, from the Pentagon’s perspective, they still are providing pay raises — so you should be quiet and happy.Yet, from MOAA’s perspective, they are failing to sustain military pay with that of private-sector pay — capping your pay — and failing to learn from hard lessons of the past by proposing a raise required by law to keep up with the average American’s pay.