February 02, 2015

How Should Military Leadership Respond To Calls For Compensation Reform?

By Katherine Kidder

The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission released its long-awaited final report on Thursday, offering a number of findings and recommendations for improving “the fiscal sustainability of the compensation and retirement systems.” These recommendations include moving from a defined benefit to a blended defined benefit and defined contribution retirement system, changing the health care system for family members and retirees, and an affirmation of existing quality of life programs. Fundamentally untouched are current military pay tables and allowances for housing and subsistence.

The existence of the report itself is significant, as it forces a difficult conversation between Department of Defense leadership, Congress, service members, and society at large. Issues of military compensation and retirement reform have been avoided as a third-rail conversation in post-9/11 America, rightly driven by the fact that we were in the midst of sending our service members into combat, many of them for multiple tours. The review of the existing system was necessary in order to address rising personnel costs, particularly in an era of decreasing defense budgets. The report is powerful in that it requires factions on both civilian and military communities to honestly evaluate the social contract Americans have with their military, and what it will take to sustain the all-volunteer force in a time of protracted war.

Read the full article at Task & Purpose.

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