Hagel, Dempsey Pledge Review of Military Pay

The review follows a Senate deal that cut benefits to some retirees.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel listens to a speaker before testifying on Syria to the House Armed Services Committee on September 10, 2013.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
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Jordain Carney
Dec. 19, 2013, 9:37 a.m.

De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair­man Mar­tin De­mp­sey said on Thursday that the Pentagon will con­tin­ue to re­view the mil­it­ary’s cur­rent pay, pen­sion, and health­care struc­ture.

A pro­vi­sion in the re­cent budget agree­ment in­cludes a $6-bil­lion cut over 10 years to work­ing-age mil­it­ary re­tir­ees cost-of-liv­ing ad­just­ments, draw­ing cri­ti­cism from both Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans.

But a push to keep the fund­ing pit­ted the sen­at­ors against lead­ers in the De­fense De­part­ment — in­clud­ing Hagel and De­mp­sey, who re­it­er­ated their sup­port for the deal on Thursday.

“We can no longer put off mil­it­ary com­pens­a­tion re­form,” Hagel said, not­ing that he would work with Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Chair­man Carl Lev­in, D-Mich., and oth­er mem­bers of Con­gress to re­view changes next year.

“We all know that we need to slow cost growth in mil­it­ary com­pens­a­tion, oth­er­wise we’ll have to make dis­pro­por­tion­ate cuts to mil­it­ary read­i­ness and mod­ern­iz­a­tion,” Hagel said, while ac­know­ledging that mil­it­ary lead­ers are aware that some of the pro­pos­als will likely be un­pop­u­lar.

De­mp­sey ad­ded that the De­fense De­part­ment will have to con­tin­ue to look at in­sti­tu­tion­al re­form — in­clud­ing health­care and pay com­pens­a­tion — go­ing for­ward.

Though De­mp­sey said the budget deal al­lows the de­part­ment to handle many of its near-term read­i­ness chal­lenges, Hagel noted that the de­part­ment still faces huge long-term fisc­al chal­lenges.

Hagel and De­mp­sey de­clined to com­ment on where they would re­com­mend cuts to the De­fense De­part­ment’s budget be made when Con­gres­sion­al ap­pro­pri­at­ors meet next year.

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