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NEWS | May 12, 2014

Joint Chiefs: Pay and benefits must remain competitive

By Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON - Budgetary pressures mean military compensation must be scrutinized but service members must get the best support the nation can afford, military leaders told senators May 6.

"If we do not act now to rebalance military compensation, we risk future training, readiness and modernization cuts across the joint force," Army Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding Department of Defense military compensation proposals. The Army and Air National Guard combined account for 8.4 percent of defense compensation and benefit spending.

"Our success is unquestionably due to our most important resource - our people," Grass said. "Every service member - active, Guard and Reserve - deserves the best we can provide within a fiscally sound solution."

All members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified at the hearing on Defense Department proposals to slow the growth of pay and allowances while improving the efficiency of commissaries and health care, maintaining end-strength and readiness and investing in modernization of the joint force.

"Our people are our greatest strength, and they do deserve the best support we can provide," said Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"Pay and compensation benefits must remain competitive in order for us to recruit and retain the very best for our Army and the joint force," said Army Gen. Raymond Odierno, Army chief of staff.

Defense Department leaders have emphasized that changes in military compensation would not have a negative impact on service members.

The Army and Air National Guard serve as the primary combat reserve to their active duty components and are the nation’s first military responders in times of domestic crisis.

"The Guard we have today is equipped, trained and tested over the past 12 years of combat," Grass said. "I believe the proposal before you provides the level of compensation and is consistent with a ready and modern force."