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Limit Danger Pay? Limit Long Deployments, Too

Don't count on your imminent danger pay during your next deployment. The Pentagon announced plans to re-certify certain areas of the world.

Afghanistan? Still considered dangerous by the Department of Defense. So boots-on-the-ground servicemembers in high-risk areas will still receive hazardous duty/imminent danger pay of up to to $225 per month.

That’s a good thing.

But the Persian Gulf? The Gulf of Aden? The Gulf of Oman? The Red Sea? The skies above that part of the Middle East? Although those areas were considered dangerous enough to require imminent danger pay since 9/11, they no longer qualify under the new policy that starts June 1.

On one hand, I’m thinking how much that money will be missed by the thousands of young sailors and Marines assigned to ships in that region of the world. A couple of hundred dollars makes a huge difference to a young military family dealing with the hidden costs of deployment.

On the other hand, I’m thinking we haven’t seen daisies and peace symbols emerging from that area of the world lately.

Didn’t Syria’s ongoing Civil War have our ships off their coast just last summer ready to go “like that?” Didn’t we place all embassies in that region on high alert for an “imminent” terrorist attack?

Maybe I have that wrong. Maybe that area of the world really is more stable than it has been in recent years.

Which confuses me more than ever. If that area of the world is not such a danger, we would save a lot more money by not going there so often and not staying there so long.

Instead of the standard eight or nine month deployment that the Navy does now, they would save more money by returning to the six month cap on Navy deployments that existed through most of the Nineties.

Any lapse between ships would not be a big deal because the area is not that dangerous, right?

That idea bothers me. If we don’t send ships to the Middle East so often, wouldn’t we lose the deterrent the presence of a United States warship provides? So then wouldn’t the area become less stable? Wouldn’t danger become more imminent than ever?

This seems to be a case of a classic military Catch-22. The Persian Gulf region is not imminently dangerous because the military personnel in the region are working to keep a lid on trouble spots. Yet because the area no longer qualifies as having imminent danger, pays are cut to young, deploying military members and their families.

That kind of absurdity is supposed to make us look at what we are really doing. We don’t need to snip away at a defense budget that hovers around $600 billion.

If we are really ready to make cuts, we need to examine our intention in the world—what we are doing, what we want to do, and what we can afford to do. And how, exactly, we will deal fairly with our servicemembers while we are doing it.

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