Pentagon Eyes Cuts in Danger Pay

WASHINGTON (AP) -

The Pentagon is eyeing plans to eliminate danger pay for service members in as many as 18 countries and five waterways around the world, saving about $120 million each year while taking a bite out of 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. Senior military leaders came up with the proposed list of locations in their regions that no longer were perilous enough to warrant danger pay, including several countries in the heart of the tumultuous Middle East.

Defense officials said the proposal would strip the stipend — which can be up to $225 per month — from as many as 56,000 service members, including thousands stationed in Kuwait, which was a key hub during the Iraq war.

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.

Under the plans being discussed, troops would still receive the extra money if they serve in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The U.S. does not have any military members now serving in Iran.

Some of the countries that could likely be dropped from the list include Bahrain, where the Navy’s 5th Fleet is located; Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Liberia, Haiti and several former Soviet republics.

Officials have argued that if service members are allowed to bring their families with them for assignments in places like Bahrain, then it is difficult to argue that they should receive danger pay.