Some military news you just can't find in your retired officer association e-mails: "Flag Officer Retired Pay Jumps"
"But the undisputed champions of compensation for 2007 appear to be the military’s top 161 officers. There is no evidence these officers lobbied for dramatic pay gains, certainly not in wartime. Yet their lifetime compensation is about to get a pleasant jolt.
In January, when most service members will receive a 2.2 percent basic pay raise, their smallest in 12 years, America’s 36 four-star generals and admirals, and its 125 lieutenant generals and vice admirals, will see basic pay climb by 8.7 percent, or $1100 a month.
More significant are changes in the way their retired pay is calculated. To use one prominent officer as an example, Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, could see his future retired pay jump by almost $37,000 a year."
To put the numbers in context, I should point out that next year my retired pay will rise from $35,244 to $36,407. I'm certainly not complaining, but that entire amount gets lost in GEN Abizaid's pay raise!
The irony of this heroic pay increase is that none of the services seem to be having any difficulty retaining their flag officers. It's never been about the money with these people-- only the power. If anything, they're pestering Congress to let them hang around longer. Yet DoD will inaugurate a 40-year pay chart next year (the current one only goes to 30) and SECDEF will have the authority to lift the 75% cap on the retiree pay multiple. Imagine being able to retire after 40 years of service, in your high 50s or low 60s, at 100% of base pay.
Some of the ranks will see more than 2.2% in their paychecks and some of the special pays/bonuses are being raised. But the retiree COLA (3.3%) exceeds the overall active duty pay raise (2.2%) for the second year in a row. What kind of message are we sending here?
Any personnel officer will tell you that pay & healthcare make up the biggest portion of the military's budget-- even more than the warships, bullets, & beans. Yet I wonder how many millions will be cut from the services' budgets this year or shifted to the Iraq account. GEN Abizaid's $37K was 75% of the annual budget that I had direct control over as a training command instructor. I bet it could make a much bigger difference to the students than to the retired flag officers who didn't ask for it in the first place...