Modernizing Military Compensation

Congress should use this year's defense authorization bill to modernize the U.S. military compensation system.

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idea_bulbThe current military personnel system is outdated and too rigid to accommodate the flexible future force that the U.S. armed forces and national security will require. Designed in the post-World War II era with a hodgepodge of additions, the military pay, health care, and retirement systems remain largely the same as they were in 1947.

After years of punting the issue, Congress has adopted several reform recommendations in the House Armed Services Committee’s version of this year’s defense authorization bill, including a major change to the retirement system that would require DOD to contribute to a 401(k)-style plan for every service member. This is a great start, but much more remains to be done. The military pay, health care, and retirement systems need to be updated to meet the needs of the current force, while making sure that they will support the flexible future force that U.S. national security will require. The real question is whether Congress will maintain the political will to act.

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