Hard to believe that ONE enlisted man would vote for the GOP.
It would seem that voting for Bush is like "s__ting" in your mess kit!
Talk about a whooshing sound - wait 'till our volunteers are eligible
for discharge. The draft is a lock-in.
Troops in Iraq face pay cut
Pentagon says tough duty bonuses are budget-buster
Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Washington -- The Pentagon wants to cut the pay of its 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, who are already
contending with guerrilla-style attacks, homesickness and 120- degree-plus heat.
Unless Congress and President Bush take quick action when Congress returns after Labor Day, the uniformed
Americans in Iraq and the 9,000 in Afghanistan will lose a pay increase approved last April of $75 a month in
"imminent danger pay" and $150 a month in "family separation allowances."
The Defense Department supports the cuts, saying its budget can't sustain the higher payments amid a host of
other priorities. But the proposed cuts have stirred anger among military families and veterans' groups and even
prompted an editorial attack in the Army Times, a weekly newspaper for military personnel and their families that
is seldom so outspoken.
Congress made the April pay increases retroactive to Oct. 1, 2002, but they are set to expire when the federal
fiscal year ends Sept. 30 unless Congress votes to keep them as part of its annual defense appropriations
Imminent danger pay, given to Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force members in combat zones, was raised to $225
from $150 a month. The family separation allowance, which goes to help military families pay rent, child care or
other expenses while soldiers are away, was raised from $100 a month to $250.
Last month, the Pentagon sent Congress an interim budget report saying the extra $225 monthly for the two pay
categories was costing about $25 million more a month, or $300 million for a full year. In its "appeals package"
laying out its requests for cuts in pending congressional spending legislation, Pentagon officials recommended
returning to the old, lower rates of special pay and said military experts would study the question of combat pay in
WHITE HOUSE DUCKS ISSUE
A White House spokesman referred questions about the administration's view on the pay cut to the Pentagon
Military families have started hearing about the looming pay reductions, and many aren't happy.
They say duty in Iraq is dangerous -- 60 Americans have died in combat- related incidents since President Bush
declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1. Another 69 have been killed by disease, the heat
or in accidents.
"Every person they see is a threat. They have no idea who is an enemy or who is a friend," said Larry Syverson,
54, of Richmond, Va., whose two sons, Brandon, 31, and Bryce, 25, are serving in Iraq. Syverson appeared with
other military families at a Washington, D.C., news conference to publicize efforts to bring the troops home.
"You can get shot in the head when you go to buy a Coke," added Syverson, referring to an incident at a
Baghdad University cafeteria on July 6 when an Army sergeant was shot and killed after buying a soda.
AFRAID FOR HER SON
Susan Schuman of Shelburne Falls, Mass., said her son, Army National Guard Sgt. Justin Schuman, had told her
"it's really scary" serving in Samarra, a town about 20 miles from Saddam Hussein's ancestral hometown of Tikrit.
Schuman, who like Syverson has become active in a group of military families that want service personnel pulled
out of Iraq, said the pay cut possibility didn't surprise her.
"It's all part of the lie of the Bush administration, that they say they support our troops," she said.
It's rare for the independent Army Times, which is distributed widely among Army personnel, to blast the
Pentagon, the White House and the Congress. But in this instance, the paper has said in recent editorials that
Congress was wrong to make the pay raises temporary, and the Pentagon is wrong to call for a rollback.
"The bottom line: If the Bush administration felt in April that conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan warranted
increases in danger pay and family separation allowances, it cannot plausibly argue that the higher rates are not still
warranted today," the paper said in an editorial in its current edition.
On Capitol Hill, members say the issue will be taken up quickly after the summer recess when a conference
committee meets to negotiate conflicting versions of the $369 billion defense appropriations bill.
"You can't put a price tag on their service and sacrifice, but one of the priorities of this bill has got to be ensuring
our servicemen and women in imminent danger are compensated for it," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut
Creek, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
"Since President Bush declared 'mission accomplished' on May 1, 126 American soldiers have died in Iraq, and
we are losing more every day," Tauscher said. "If that's not imminent danger, I don't know what is."
The Senate bill calls for making permanent the increases in combat pay -- the first in more than a decade -- for
service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House wants to pay more for service in those two countries than for such
duties as peacekeeping in the Balkans. With the money saved, the House wants to increase the size of the active
military by 6,200 troops.
What won't be clear until Congress returns is whether the Pentagon will lobby against keeping the increase.
The Pentagon reiterated Wednesday that its goal was for service personnel to rotate out of Iraq after a maximum
of a year in that country. Units of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which played a major role in last March's
invasion, have already come home.
By the numbers
U.S. troops in Iraq: 148,000
U.S. troops in Afghanistan: 9,000
Imminent danger pay: $225 per month, but is scheduled to drop to $150 a month
Family separation allowances: $250 per month, but scheduled to drop to $100 per month