By John J. Kruzel, American Forces Press
D.C. -- Active-duty
troops will receive retroactive earnings, followed shortly afterward
by a supplemental payday for nonactive personnel, a Pentagon
The National Defense Authorization Act signed into law by
President Bush stipulates a 3.5 percent military pay raise. This hike
is 0.5 percent higher than an executive order Bush signed Dec. 28 to
increase pay by 3 percent, which took effect Jan 1.
In mid-February, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service
will pay active-duty troops the extra 0.5 percent raise earned since
the start of 2008.
Nonactive members will receive the supplement "a couple
weeks later," said Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary for military
Carr said the Pentagon is "delighted" with the act
and praised cooperation by Congress. Disagreement between the
president and Congress over non-defense-related earmarks and
controversial language about the Iraq war had delayed the bill's
"I think it's good news for everybody in uniform,"
Carr said. "This Congress has been terrific in working with us in
terms of providing to the troops the things that they need."
Between 2000 and 2007, private-sector pay increased by 29
percent, while military pay jumped 42 percent during the same time,
Meanwhile, wages paid to noncommissioned officers, which
includes corporals and all grades of sergeant and petty officer,
spiked by about 52 percent.
"We've made considerable headway, in terms of increasing
the value of military pay, to the point where we're now frankly in
about the 70th or 80th percentile of similarly educated American
earners," Carr said. He noted that the most recent raise, by
virtue of exceeding the current inflation rate, will increase
servicemember recipients' purchasing power.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said the retroactive
payments ensure "that our forces are compensated commensurate to
their service and sacrifice."
In a news conference at the Pentagon, Morrell noted that troops
will benefit in various ways by provisions codified in the act.
"It lets us resume offering bonuses to new recruits and
re-enlisting troops," he said. The act also includes funding to
improve health care and benefits for wounded troops and veterans.
The bill became law just a week before the next budget cycle
begins as Bush sends his fiscal 2009 request to Capitol Hill.