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Before this gets blown all out of proportion
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, March 04, 2007

The San Francisco Chronicle's headline reads "NATO's U.S. forces in Kosovo may lose benefits of combat status." Another example of "not taking care of the troops?"

Not really. It has to do with determining whether an area still qualifies as a hostile fire area (or a combat zone). If it does, there are certain 'benefits' attached to serving in such an area. You get a tax exemption and you're paid what is now called "Imminent Danger Pay" (we called it combat pay and others have called it hostile fire pay). But you have to be in a combat zone for those to kick in. What's going on is an re-evaluation of Kosovo to determine if it still fits the criteria of a combat zone:
Defense officials said all areas designated as combat zones are under a periodic review, and early policy recommendations from the Pentagon are that all areas in the Balkans — designated as a combat zone under presidential order since March 24, 1999 — be downgraded because of improved security. Top military officers in Europe have officially disagreed, but they have been told the change could come as early as April 1.

"Combat Zone Tax Exclusion and Imminent Danger Pay are both under review for all designated areas," Maj. Stewart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an e-mail. "The Department will not comment beyond that until the reviews are complete."
Of course the "top military officers" disagree. They're for keeping that sort of pay for soldiers there because Kosovo isn't a particularly great tour and anything which would ameliorate the situation and mollify those who have to pull a "short tour" there ("short tours" in the Army at least are ususally 13 months and unaccompanied (no wife or family). I certainly don't fault those officers for trying to keep that compensation in place. However, I'm not sure Kosovo meets the criteria anymore.
"I stand to lose a decent chunk of money, and it's hard to believe that if that came through we'd get paid the same amount as someone who gets to go home to their wife and kids every day, gets to have a beer with dinner, and we're away for a year and a half," said Cpl. Will Larsen, 22, of Fairfax, Va., an assistant infantry squad leader. "There are a lot of people back home who don't even know we're here. I just don't want them to forget about us."
While I sympathize with Larsen, he really isn't any different than our troops in Korea. They're sitting just south of the DMZ across from a hostile North Korea, but they get neither the tax break or the combat pay. Nor are they going home to their wife and kids everyday although they may manage to find a way to have a beer with dinner.

Bottom line, this is actually good news in the sense that Kosovo is no longer considered a hostile fire area. And while that won't shorten the tour of any of those there, it does mean they will be stationed in a place in which security has improved to the point that such benefits aren't warranted. The tax breaks and combat pay aren't rights, they're benefits allowed to those who are indeed in real hostile fire areas.
 
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"They’re for keeping that sort of pay for soldiers there because Kosovo isn’t a particularly great tour and anything which would ameliorate the situation and mollify those who have to pull a "short tour" there..."
This is the same kind of thinking that created the welfare problem. Dammit, if the votes aren’t there to create (and be held accountable for) "Not a Particularly Great Tour" pay, then it should not be paid. Pulling a short tour in unattractive places was in the contract when they enlisted or renlisted; there should be no need to pay them extra for fulfilling their contract. Screwing the taxpayers to feather one’s nest is not a good idea and should not be encouraged.
 
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
"Not a Particularly Great Tour" pay
Yeah ... the Army managed to give me a good number of those type tours and I never made a nickle.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog

There is a Family Separation Allowance(FSA) ;
http://usmilitary.about.com/od/fy2005paycharts/a/fsa.htm

There is also Hardship-Duty Pay;
"HDP-L. Formerly called "foreign-duty pay" or "certain places pay," this is for enlisted personnel and officers serving in areas located in 150 countries the defense secretary deems arduous."
According to the article, Iraq and Afghanistan are such areas, so it appears Cpl. Larsen may be mistaken. An extensive list of locations and their respective rates for 2001 can be found at
http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/2001pay/blhardship-1.htm

Interestingly, both South and North Korea are eligible locations. A more up to date pdf chart of locations & rates is available at
http://usmilitary.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.dod.mil/comptroller/fmr/07a/07a%5F17.pdf

Kosovo has been include since Mar, 2006.

My sometimes faulty memory tells me that there were even at one time a couple of places in Germany where the folks stationed there drew what is now called Hardship_Duty Pay.

http://www.armytimes.com/benefits/pay/online_hbml06_payandbenefits_otherpay9/

I seem to recall that just before Gulf War I there were some servicemen whining about losing their separate rations. I believe that after a little publicity, they were allowed to keep drawing separate rations. I may be in error, but I remember thinking that it sure sets a bad precedent.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Bahrain and Kuwait are considered combat zones, too.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Isn’t it time to end the quagmire in Kosovo and bring our troops home now? Support the troops!
 
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://gabbleratchet.blogspot.com
I am in C co. 1st 116th Inf and in Kosovo right now. CPL Will Larsen is a close and personal friend of mine, and I have a few comments for those that say he should suck it up.

CPL Larsen is one of the best soldiers in C co. He is one of the best and brightest in the military. I know that he is in the ROTC program and VA Tech and just short of getting his commision in the National Guard when this deployment came up. Notice I said National Guard. Here are a few points about the differances in us, and those serving in Korea.

1. All soldiers serving in Korea are ACTIVE DUTY soldiers. There are no National Guard units in Korea. Korea has been a perm duty station for more then 50 years. And while Korea is not like serving in Germany, that war ended along long time ago.

2. National Guard duty is demanding in that we are not full timers. We have to hold down civilian jobs and keep two sets of bosses happy at all times. Both military and civilian. A lot of C co. soldiers are in college now and they have to put thier lives, both personal and profesional, on hold to be deployed. All the active duty soldiers (God Bless’em all) are just that. Active duty soldiers. They do this every day year round. When they get deployed to a place like this, it’s not much different then what they normally do. The location is different, but the barracks, the duty, the hours are pretty much the same.

3. Hardship Duty Pay is given for Kosovo. It’s a total of $50 per month. Timactual should stop using a table from 2001. So CPL Larsen i snot mistaken.

4. Harun says Larsen doesn’t get much sympathy from him. He should. Reguardless of the duty, leaving your family, your job, or school for 18 months at a time is more hardship then 95% of all Americans will ever expieriance. Those sailors at sea are like those in Korea, FULL TIME military.

5. All those stories that are missing are exactly the point. YOU DON’T SEE THEM BECAUSE THE PRESS DOESN’T CARE ABOUT KOSOVO. Iraq is the hot news area. I could list all things that happen in our area in the last four months and while it aint Iraq, it’s not like working a shift at Starbucks. The only thing keeping the Serbs and Albanians from restarting the ethnic fighting, is us.


And lastly, you could double the pay all the entire military, from private all the way to general, and guess what?????............ it still wouldn’t be enough for what we do.


SPC Richard McCormick
C co. 1st 116th INF
Task Force Red Dragon
KFOR8 Camp Bondsteel

 
Written By: SPC Richard McCormick
URL: http://
It was also left out of Spc McCormick’s comments that alot, if not the majority, of National Guard members called to Active Duty already take a pay cut when they leave their civilian jobs. Then to further take a chunk out of their pay is quite a hardship for their families. I wonder how much money does Robert Fuller think an enlisted member of the National Guard makes anyway, I don’t think it’s quite enough to "feather our nests". Some of the members are making significantly less than they did in their civilian jobs, I wonder if your everyday American would sacrifice as much for their country. And lastly, if you’ve never served your country, I don’t think your opinion matters much anyway.
 
Written By: The Wife of Spc McCormick
URL: http://
And lastly, if you’ve never served your country, I don’t think your opinion matters much anyway.
28 years total service, ma’am. And I’ve drawn hazardous duty pay. I’ve also been deployed where I was separated from my family for over a year on active duty and drawn no hazardous duty pay. So I think I know what I’m talking about.

I appreciate the sacrifice of all of you, I really do, but I’ve been there and done that and certainly have an appreciation for what hazardous duty means.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
" All soldiers serving in Korea are ACTIVE DUTY soldiers...."

You aren’t really trying to get sympathy by telling us that you have a tougher life than active duty soldiers, are you?

"Hardship Duty Pay is given for Kosovo. It’s a total of $50 per month."
Yeah, I mentioned that, and the amount is in the second table I cited(see below).

"Kosovo has been include since Mar, 2006."

"Timactual should stop using a table from 2001. So CPL Larsen i snot mistaken."

If you do not like the 2001 table, use the more up-to-date one that I also cited;
"A more up to date pdf chart of locations & rates is available at
http://usmilitary.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.dod.mil/comptroller/fmr/07a/07a%5F17.pdf"

"we’d get paid the same amount as someone who gets to go home to their wife and kids every day, gets to have a beer with dinner, and we’re away for a year and a half,""

Since he would get paid MORE than someone who "gets to go home...", he is mistaken.

" it still wouldn’t be enough for what we do."

Then find another line of work. Sorry if your cozy little part-time job turned into more inconvenience than you expected, but that’s the biz. It’s VOLUNTARY, remember?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Quite a dilemma isn’t it. The US needs to cut the budget and they are looking everywhere and anywhere. This is not about combat zone entitlements, this is about getting the spiraling Department of Defense budget in check and if these Congressmen think that taking away these needed benefits will have any effect, perhaps they should start looking in the mirror and start paying for all their fringe benefits. Perhaps we should stop paying for these free lunch programs for illegal immigrants. This is not about duty and honor, this is about money. Go ahead and take away their benefits that will fix everything! If this is not a combat zone than see what the hell happens if the US was not here.

God Bless Our troops!!
 
Written By: Anonymous
URL: http://

 
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