Air Force Association Flies Solo on Pay-Raise Cap
Why one military association is supporting the Obama administration’s proposed cap on 2014 pay raises for active-duty service members, taking a stance that differs from other military groups.
An Obama administration plan to cap 2014 pay increases for active-duty service men and women at 1 percent (instead of 1.8 percent, which would keep pace with the private sector) took a shot from the Military Coalition last month.
In a letter to Congress [PDF], the coalition—a collection of 33 military and veterans groups that share a similar policy agenda—wrote, “History provides ample evidence that capping military raises is an exceptionally slippery slope which has never ended well.”
But one prominent member of the coalition—the Air Force Association (AFA)—has since announced its support for the cap.
“AFA stands by our men and women in uniform,” Douglas A. Birkey, director of government relations for AFA, said in an email to Associations Now. “Ensuring that they have the tools, skills, and readiness they require to successfully complete their missions and return home safe is not mutually exclusive of supporting robust pay and benefits. As with everything, it is a matter of balance. Just as weapons spending should not unduly erode earned pay and benefits, personnel costs must not undermine the ability of our service members to engage in harm’s way.”
AFA’s name appears on the coalition’s letter to Congress, which was presented at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing two weeks ago, but Birkey sent an email to AFA members just days later, giving them the organization’s views on the 2014 budget proposal, the Air Force Times reported.
“The bottom-line reality is that military pay and benefit accounts have increased aggressively over the past decade,” he said. “Such rapid escalation is not sustainable, especially when it threatens mission success and aircrew survival.”
Other members of the coalition continue to oppose the cap.
“The Association of the United States Army will not back off in its quest to maintain pay parity between the private sector and the military,” the group said in an email to Associations Now. “AUSA President, Ret. Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, has repeatedly said that ‘it is important that soldiers, [noncommissioned officers], warrant officers, and commissioned officers are paid for the level of responsibility they have while serving their country. What they do is not without a lot of sacrifice.’”
AFA continues to stand with the coalition on other issues relating to healthcare costs and retirement benefits, Birkey said.