Benefits Talk Not Just a Budget Drill

Representatives from several military service organizations, including the Air Force Association, testified before the congressionally-mandated Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission in Arlington, Va., Tuesday. The Association of the United States Army’s Guy Swan, a retired lieutenant general and AUSA’s vice president for education, said personnel costs have historically remained around 30 percent of DOD’s budget. Swan argued that some statements about out-of-control personnel costs are “misconceptions.” Similar sentiments came from the Association of the US Navy’s Vice Chairman Jim Herdt, a former Master Chief Petty Officer of the US Navy. Herdt noted the pay and benefits gap for the all-volunteer force has closed over the last decade and he doesn’t see a lot of room for additional growth in the future. Herdt did concede that, if sequestration continues, costs could rise significantly. AFA Executive Vice President Dick Newton, a retired lieutenant general, told the commission the matter is of far wider importance than a discussion on pay and benefits. “Airmen and retires deserve every dollar they earn,” he said. “However, military compensation costs continue to climb at an unsustainable rate, and if not addressed, they will consume our war fighting spending over the next few decades.”