The sequestration related budget cuts are forcing the Department of Defense (DoD) to start getting creative on how they look for ways to cut the military budget in the coming fiscal year(s). We recently shared that the DoD has considered halting promotions and PCS moves for the next fiscal year. Personally, I’m not convinced this is a feasible option, as the military will need to promote troops to backfill those who leave through normal separations and through retirement. Halting promotions would create an imbalance in the rank structure, most likely leaving the military with too few people in the middle and upper middle ranks. Halting promotions is also not very feasible due to Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA), training requirements, deployments and other military needs. But it’s very possible the military will start reducing promotions or PCS moves, even if they don’t cut them entirely.
Another recent article is taking this a step further, stating the DoD is looking at cutting additional benefits, including:
- Reducing Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) benefits to require US based service members to pay more out of pocket.
- Reducing Cost of Living Allowances (COLA) for overseas military members.
- Capping pay raises for military and DoD civilians.
- Removing the taxpayer subsidy for military commissaries (which would effectively close commissaries in many places).
- Changing TRICARE benefits for retirees in order to require them to use employer-sponsored health insurance when available.
Of course, other cuts would also need to happen to meet the mandated budget cuts. Some cuts would be sure to include weapons system cuts, Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR), base activities, and more. But the benefits are w
These Proposals Would Save Money, but Hurt Service Members and Veterans
I think all military members and veterans understand the need to cut waste and make reductions. Our government needs to make massive changes. But passing the buck onto the average military member doesn’t solve waste at the highest levels. Cutting pay and benefits will only serve to put average military members and veterans into a worse financial position.
Perhaps the biggest potential cuts are modifying TRICARE benefits for retirees to require them to use employer-sponsored health care when available. Healthcare is one of the fastest growing expenses for people in the US, and shifting that burden to retirees creates a large burden they must make up.
While I don’t think we will see these changes accepted as written, we may start seeing some of these changes slowly creep into the laws. Commissaries have already gone to reduced hours, and many stateside commissaries are facing tough competition from local grocery chains. Pay raises are already expected to be lower over the next few years. BAH and COLA rates aren’t rising much right now, as the cost of housing dropped in many locations when the real estate bubble burst.
It’s important to remember that many of these changes are simply the Department of Defense playing “what-if” with the numbers. Actually implementing these proposed changes would be more difficult than it appears, as multiple laws would need to be rewritten. I would hate to be the Congressman or woman who sponsored that bill!