MCRMC Releases Interim Report

General Dempsey

For the past several months, our Association has been closely following the work of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC). This Commission was created by Congress in 2013 to study all aspects of military pay and benefits and make recommendations about whether and how military compensation and retirement should be changed. Since last fall, the Commission has been gathering information through a series of town hall meetings, hearings and installation visits. Our Association has testified before the Commission and met with MCRMC staff on several occasions to offer our views on military compensation and retirement. So when the MCRMC released its interim report, we were eager to review it.

It’s important to know that the report is an interim report and doesn’t contain any recommendations for changes to military pay and benefits. Instead, it’s a comprehensive (358 page) review of all regular pays, special pays, incentive pays, and benefits that are available to service members, retirees, their families and survivors. It contains information on the history, legislation and policies on hundreds of pays and benefits, including the myriad of programs designed to support military family readiness.

If the report doesn’t include any recommendations, then why is it important? Our Association has always argued that it’s crucial to look at the military compensation system holistically rather than making piecemeal cuts to pay and benefits. The interim report illustrates just how huge and complicated the military pay system is.

We were especially pleased that the report addressed the repeated claims that military compensation costs have increased too much and are unsustainable. In their report, the Commission agrees that costs have increased but argues that compensation costs have to be looked at in context, pointing out that “trends need to be examined in greater detail before any conclusions can be drawn regarding fiscal sustainability. Much of this growth is attributed to inflation (particularly medical inflation), policy-driven increases in compensation to counteract recruiting and retention challenges, and personnel funding that supported 13 years of war."

The MCRMC’s final report with recommendations is due to Congress in February 2015. Until then, service members and their families can offer comments to the commission through the Commission website

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