WASHINGTON (AP) — A
Pentagon security review shows conditions improving in 18 countries once considered so dangerous that U.S. military who served there found something extra in their paychecks each month.
Now the Defense Department wants to take those countries and five waterways off the danger pay roster, saving about $120 million each year while taking a bite out of an estimated 56,000 troops' salaries, The Associated Press has learned.
Senior defense and military leaders are expected to meet later this week to review the matter and are poised to approve a new plan. Pentagon press secretary George Little declined to discuss details but said no final decisions have been made.
Senior military leaders came up with the proposed list of locations in their regions, including several countries in the heart of the tumultuous Middle East, such as Jordan, where hundreds of troops have recently deployed because of the bloody Syrian civil war on its border, and Bahrain.
Officials have argued that if service members are allowed to bring their families with them for assignments then it is difficult to argue that they should receive danger pay.
Defense officials said the proposal would strip the stipend — which can be up to $225 per month — from tens of thousands, including thousands stationed in Kuwait, which was a key hub during the Iraq war. It also would affect thousands of sailors who routinely travel through the Persian Gulf region on ships or airmen who fly over the Gulf.
The $225 monthly cut in pay would come regardless of the service member's base salary, which can range from a low of roughly $18,000 a year for a brand new recruit to a high of nearly $235,000 a year for a four-star general with more than 40 years in the military. Troops also can receive a variety of other allowances for housing, clothing or job specialties.
Defense officials described the proposal on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about it.
Under the plans being discussed, troops would still receive the extra money if they serve in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The U.S. does not have any military members now serving in Iran.