Why are we not surprised?
Military.com, May 26, 2011
Under pressure to reduce the DoD budget, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has – until recently – avoided asking for a reduction in military pay and benefits. However, the Wall Street Journal has reported that increasing pressure on lawmakers to make bigger cuts in the federal deficit has convinced defense budget planners that Congress is willing to look at cutting military compensation.
Since the beginning of his term as Sec Def, Gates has avoided asking for military pay freezes or reductions. He has instead sought to reduce the cost of TRICARE by increasing annual premiums and fees for military retirees and taxing their employers if retirees opt-out of employer provided health care. So far his repeated attempts to make major changes to TRICARE have been thwarted by Congress – mainly due to pressure from groups like the Military Officers Association of America.
However, pressure from the White House to make $400B in cuts may have forced Gates’ hand. In fact, Sec. Gates reently floated the idea that reducing military compensation may not be a bad idea. Gates told a group that reducing military pay wouldn’t negatively impact recruiting; pointing out that even during the worst of the Iraq war the Army was the only service that didn’t exceed their recruiting and retention goals.