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In view of the discussion of military compensation, kicked off by Secretary Hagel and Kos' front pager the other day, I thought it would be helpful to lay out what they pay me to get an idea of how much this really is. I suspect that the community may find this a little surprising. All military compensation is a matter of public record.

I'm an O-5 - A Lieutenant Colonel or Commander, depending on which service I'm in, and no, I'm not saying. I was commissioned in 1991, so my basic military compensation is 8,676 per month. This works out to 104,112 per year, which is in anyone's book a comfortable living - it's just about double the median family income in the United States.

Being an O-5 is, in today's military, middle management. Some of us have commands, but in general you serve more often in staff functions. That's work that needs doing too, and it can be very fulfilling, but let's be clear - most O-5s are not leading troops at the front. This is quite rare.

Getting promoted to this level is competitive. The Army Times published a piece in 2012 titled "O-5 selections plummet to lowest rate in decade" - when they dropped to just under 83%! So while there's an element of competition in all elements of one's military career, this is not by any means a cut-throat affair. Successfully being promoted to O-5 is largely a matter of being at least average, and sticking around.

This compensation package doesn't come close to telling the whole story, though. It is widely known but seldom observed that the military pay packet is lavishly embellished with a lot of extra good deals that top up one's pay significantly. Let's take a look at these other pays:

The two big ones are Basic Allowance for Subsistence: 246.24. (I'm expected to feed myself for about 18 bucks a day, which I can manage), and Basic Allowance for Housing. Where I live, in Northern Virginia, I am allotted 3,102 for housing. That would support a mortgage of over 600,000 dollars. I am not expected to cover my housing costs out of my base pay - this is extra. And these two allowances are not taxed. So the effective degree of compensation is greater. Oh, and speaking of taxes, many states do not collect income tax from military members serving outside of that state, so if you can justify legal residence in one of these states, you're off the hook for state income tax as well.

For all military members, the contribution to your retirement is nil, and you can draw it after 20 years (half pay at 20 escalating to 3/4 pay at 30 years). Your contribution to your health insurance is nil. If you shop at the commissary, you're saving as much as ten percent on your routine groceries. It's hard to quantify the tangible costs of these benefits without getting deep into quality issues (what are the precise coverages of the TRICARE health system compared to a platinum policy, what particular groceries do I put in my shopping basket, what's the net present value of the equivalent investment to give me a half pay retirement at 20 years and at what discount rate) but the effects are obviously not zero.

Depending on your particular career field, as well, there are additional special pays and allowances and so on. For example, if you are on flight status, you get a bit extra to continue to make the military your career. It varies by the number of years of aviation service, but from 14 to 22 years it peaks out at 840 per month. There's language proficiency incentive pay. There's family separation allowance that kicks in if you're as little as 150 miles away from your home for 30 days. Of course, there are combat pays and sea duty pays and hazardous duty pays and occasional bonuses to stay in, and sometimes other cash incentives to get out.

I don't argue with any of that, in principle. Military service can be dangerous, and it definitely involves work-related stresses, long hours, and a certain lack of control over where you live and for how long that many civilian career fields don't face. But appreciating a military member's service should always be subject to a bit of judgment and balance. As I reach the end of my military career, I realize that the salary I would require to maintain the same take-home pay I receive now would oblige me to look for a civilian job with an annual salary of 190,000, considering all the tax treatment of allowances and things I don't have to contribute to. Of course, I draw my retirement immediately, so I will have that extra 60,000 per year to fall back on, giving me a little flexibility to find that new job. And even if I were getting no special pay at all, my equivalent salary per year would work out to something like 165,000

If I get promoted to Captain, or Colonel (O-6), my base pay goes up by nearly a quarter, and the housing allowance becomes more generous as well. And the Admirals and Generals are even more well-paid.

I'm pleased that my country values my service. But I don't see a persuasive argument that my service is as valuable or pivotal as that of the senators, representatives, cabinet secretaries, or appeals court judges. As far as I can tell, only the President, Vice President, Supreme Court Justices, and congressional leadership are more highly compensated. This is the part that appalls me, frankly: I am no one special in the big scheme of things. I do my job, I do it well and safely, and I've prospered by being in the military. But my contribution is modest compared to that of others, and despite it benefiting me personally I believe this is inequitable. Given what I do, I am overpaid.

3:50 PM PT: I didn't expect to spur such a vibrant and interesting discussion today, especially not with my first diary. So thank you to everyone who participated and recommended it. I sincerely appreciate everyone's comments, especially those of you who criticized me - I have learned from that.

My overall point remains that I find the compensation for my service to our country to be overgenerous relative to others who serve our country. But the amplifications of the commenters who speak up for the enlisted folks, who are undercompensated, shouldn't be ignored, so that provides valuable perspective. Thanks.

Originally posted to Bookends on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:10 AM PST.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is your first diary and comment ? (8+ / 0-)

    I think its odd when people start at DKos with a diary before even posting one comment .

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:21:01 AM PST

  •  Not Sure 1-2 Hundred K for Middle Management (45+ / 0-)

    is all that excessive. The problem is the lower ranks needing food stamps, and private sector workers having had their pensions and jobs and savings and income stolen from them so that you have become a comparative fat cat as a falling tide leaves most boats high and dry.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:22:25 AM PST

    •  yep (16+ / 0-)

      there are far more non-officers in the military, who either want to stay for twenty years at least, or who want to stay long enough to get an education and prospects for employment outside the military.  This guy may feel overpaid, if he isn't any good at his job, he probably is overpaid, but I don't think 100K for a family of four is unusual. Used to be a lot, and it's a lot more than the unemployed or the minimum wage workers try to subsist on.

      I don't think the answer is to make everyone poor.  Not poor seems overpaid to some?  Odd?

      The worst it the war veterans who can't find jobs. There is a real prejudice against hiring soldiers who've been shot at.  

      Did you catch the Krugman article on the compassion deficit?  

      •  if, after 22+ years, he feels overpaid (7+ / 0-)

        and is an officer he can retire. He will receive a portion of his pay as retirement that will be more in line with what he feels he deserves, and can then NOT get a job somebody else needs, as well as opening up an 0-5 slot for another military member -- perhaps one with a family to support. Problem solved.

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:25:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  actually (10+ / 0-)

          if he's like all the 0-5s I know, he will retire, draw half his paycheck and then get another job (because he's still in his mid to late-40s)

          Civil service...probably GS 12-14 to start. Sure he has to start over at 0 for retirement, but he'll be eligible to double-dip eventually. (2 retirement paychecks from the US government)

          IM complex job (think Boeing or Lockheed Martin) making a whole lot more

          and still getting half his pay, tri-care (worse than what retiree health insurance was awhile ago, but still pretty good), and the right to continue shopping tax free

        •  he's being honest about a general systemic (6+ / 0-)

          issue not complaining about his own problem that needs a solution. If it were the latter it would piss me off--upper middle class complaint.

          It is boring not to work...and he'll be locked into a lifestyle he wants to maintain.

          People who make 100-200K a year (one salary, not counting any spouse's), in my experience, often forget that they are doing quite well compared to other people and think that they are average only. Some of that undercurrent is going on this discussion..as if there is only "minimum wage people" and them, "in the middle". Which they are not.

          •  he started in 1991 (0+ / 0-)

            had he taken an engineering degree to one of those military -vendor firms then -- what would he likely be making today?

            LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

            by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:25:29 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  This is way more than 100K (6+ / 0-)

        A tax free housing allowance of $37,000 a year is worth well over $50,000. Retirement at half pay after 20 years that will probably last for over 40 years with no contribution must be worth way more than $25,000 a year. Great health insurance for almost nothing that lasts into retirement is worth many more thousands a year.

      •  100K for 2 income family isn't a lot but (6+ / 0-)

        we are talking for one worker, and we are talking about
        with virtually free housing and healthcare, as he says, closer to 200K for one worker.

        It's probably the top 80% at least of workers if not more.

        I think that so many who make that much think they are middle class and they are not really. Or we all are using the term too loosely. THeir lives are not that much like the average American's. Not the "minimum wage" workers. A bunch of people here are talking that way.

        As if they say "I don't make that much, 100-200K isn't that much really". Maybe they are surrounded by people like themselves. Most Americans make more like 50K for a family.

        I guess if everyone around you has upper middle class luxuries you stop thinking that the luxury or relative comfort and financial stability is that.

        •  Please don't repeat his lie (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AaronInSanDiego

          Housing and health care is NOT free.  Both are part of  a total compensation package.

          The military is unique among jobs that a large percentage of all workers are forced to live in provided housing.  You can't exactly decided to live on your own ship if you are in the Navy or get a nice single family outside your fire base in Afghanistan.  Because of this the military had to come up with some way to compensate those NOT living in provided housing.  This used to be a very small percentage but has grown to the majority.  But there are still times when almost everyone  - say 2005 when over half the operational Army was deployed - is in "government housing."  Allowance for food works the same way.  YOu can't decided to bring your own food for a year long trip to Iraq or a 10 month cruise to the Gulf.

          As for our health care, are again unique in that a large portion of the military only sees doctors who are themselves military.  We are slowly transitioning to a more civilian model for some health care and dental is already there.  I pay for dental insurance every month and quite frankly for my family, it sucks.  On post military dental is great for service members but the family coverage is quite minimal.  

          Civilian companies break out shat you pay for medical and dental as a way to inform you that you are receiving more pay than what goes in your checking account.  And they do it for TAX PURPOSES.  Depending on your plan, health insurance premiums can be tax deductible.  Since we never "see" ours, they are not.  For tax purposes they are paid with pre-tax dollars.  And since the Army doesn't have to file corporate taxes they have no incentive to track non-payroll expenses for me.  

          Sorry to be so harsh but the OP is either very badly informed about the pay he has been receiving for the last 23 years or has intentionally misled you.

          It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

          by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 05:31:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  150 to 200 Hundred K for middle management (18+ / 0-)

      positions is high relative to all middle management type jobs and relative to most small to medium corporations/businesses. I was a investment analyst and portfolio manager for over 20 years and my job consisted of analyzing business cost structures, including employee pay. This is a sweet deal. I'm not saying it is not warranted, just saying it is at the high end of what most businesses pay for middle management positions. If you include the diarist's pay, plus perks, his/her compensation is well in excess of $150,000.

      "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.2, -7.9

      by helpImdrowning on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:42:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  NOT middle management (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego

        Most middle management people supervise 5-8 people.  It is highly unusual for them to supervise more than 30.  

        Army LTCs command battalions with 300-1200 people.  We put brand new Lieutenants in charge of 30 people.

        Most middle management people are responsible for their section or division M-F.

        Army LTCs are responsible for every aspect of their soldiers lives 24/7/365.

        Funny thing is the larger commands are actually easier because you have far more help.  My boss in Afghanistan was a LTC.  He had 45 people spread across 4 locations covering all of Afghanistan.  Every day we would head out and spend 2-15 hours with our Afghan counterparts.  Small unit leadership is tough and no one knew it better than he did.  He had a similar job in Iraq and his team basically mutinied on him.  Exactly how many middle managers lose sleep over the possibility that their heavily armed employees might decide to "replace" them?

        Sorry but the OP has an agenda and describing O5s as "middle management" is part of that agenda.  

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 05:43:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  05 - is a major career step (0+ / 0-)

        For those who need to build their resume as a line officer O5 is a critical rank. For Navy Commanders it is being the captain of a real warship like a destroyer or cruiser. For the Army and Marines it's a battalion commander of four or five companies and 1,000 people.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:45:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Correct -- it is not. (15+ / 0-)

      During my own 24 year career I certainly never felt 'overpaid'. Mind you, I also was not part of the commisioned ranks nor their compensation. I did, however, the last few years, having acheived some substantive rank, feel that I was adequatly compensated -- close to $60,000.00. As the poster has shown, tha would fare pretty well on a national wage average.

       As regards 'middle level management', actually, some unfairness there. At one point ( actually several years ) I ran a department that involved boh personal and equipment management. In the private sector that would not be one person. It would at least two -- and making more! ( we ran an informal comparison once for 'shits 'n giggles ) So that's a 'hmmmmm', as far as I think!

       So I definatly never felt 'overpaid' I can say, now that I am retired ( arggghh, bastards kicked me out when they broke me)
      I can at least say that it was a hell of a ride and, given that I never expected to get rich doing it, I'd do it again. After all, I gotta look at the upside.

       My pension is modest, but it is still ahead of what a great many have. ( Covers a modest mortgage with leftovers. ) And it is forever. So I plan around it --- that is an incredible
      amount of freedom to have. At a relitivly young age -- even if busted up a bit.

       I lived, worked and played in some pretty crappy places. And some pretty darn good ones too. Can't complain about a career that took me to sevice in such godawful places like Hawaii, France, the Mediteranian, the Middle East ( 'kay, that wasn't always fun -- but for a history geek? cool.. ) Palm Springs and Congressman Bonos dining table ( hey -- that is a long story, but a good 'un. Just had to toss it in.... ), amongst many other places.
      Another thing that gives me some giggles is seeing people pay big money to do things I was paid to do. Guess they may be bored.......

       I certainly get the O 5's point ( yer Army -- I smell it ) but it is something perhaps deserving of a bit more nuance. No doubt many at the higher O levels ( and E too ) who have floated for years are indeed overpaid. Many are underpaid -- especially if they heft unproductive deadweight. And both O wage compensation ( don't really begrudge that ) and pension benifits are better on the 'O' side of the house. I would add to 'O5's' point in one way certainly -- military personal should contribute a portion of earnings to their pension. It wouldn't cause harm to what is a very good deal.
      A good enough deal that I'm off to Paris in a couple of weeks.

      After that I may need the tin cup full of pencils for sale.......

      it tastes like burning...

      by eastvan on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:23:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  so many make 40K or so (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate

      too much for foodstamps.
      so much less than 100K-200K.

      So many people I know think what they make when they make >100K is just average or not so much, I've noticed.

    •  this is roughly equal to what a middle school (4+ / 0-)

      principle makes around here with 20 years in the system and a Master's degree.  I don't see how $100K+ is overpaid in any system where CEOs literally earn millions each year

  •  I recced it BUT.... (51+ / 0-)

    you need to keep in mind that you are equal to upper middle management or executive level in the corporate world.  You are, admittedly though your own efforts, positioned towards the top of a hierarchal pay/grade pyramid.  

    It is the enlisted members, E-6 and below, who are paid less than their efforts warrant, IMO. And they are near the base of the pyramid and thus far more plentiful.

    The military has always been good at paying its officer corps well.  The worker bees, not so much.

    I'm a retired military officer, in case you wondered.

  •  Typical officer statement..... The officers are (30+ / 0-)

    taken care of by the system.  It's the enlistee's that need the better pay and benefits.  It's the enlistee's that are the ones that are on the front lines doing the real work.  It's the enlistee's dependents that are treated as so much trash that needs to change.  It is disgraceful that a 2 striper with a spouse and one child qualifies for food stamps.  Let's not get into enlistee military housing....

    My dad retired MSgt from the USAF after 22 years.  His retirement pay would not support a family and that was in 1983.

    •  Hey, to an officer (5+ / 0-)

      The enlisted don't even count. You don't need more evidence for that than this abominable and inexcusably clueless diary.

      "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

      by MargaretPOA on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:12:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Uh, excuse me, but...... (12+ / 0-)

        I care.  I was enlisted before I became an officer, so that puts me in a not-totally-unique position, but not the most common, either.  What my experience does is give me a somewhat different perspective.

        What I would ask the diarist is:

        1.  How many family birthdays did you miss because you were deployed?

        2.  How many anniversaries?

        3.  How many times did you pack your belonging to move, dragging your kids away from their friends and the lives they knew?

        4.  How many times did deployments leave your family living in fear for your safety?

        5.  Were you lucky enough to attend the birth of all of your children?

        Military life is hard.  The hours are long and those participating can be in serious danger of losing life or limb.  Those that choose to participate often do not have the totally willing participation of their families, and for good reason.  That said, the very junior enlisted are paid barely more than a stipend to survive.  E-4 and below can have serious financial issues if they are married and have families and the burden doesn't really ease until they reach the "Senior Enlisted" ranks.  Military life takes a degree of dedication that few in the civilian world would understand, and that dedication extends to the service member's family.  

        Retirement while still young is not only a perk of having given up so much, it is encouraged because of the dangerous and stressful environment.  Ask yourself, "Do we really want 50 year olds jumping out of airplanes?"  I think you can answer that question.

    •  well said! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nchristine, ladybug53, ER Doc

      As a retired Navy Senior Chief (E-8) I also see this as a typical officer statement. Smug and sheltered in his own little cocoon, clueless about the lives of the enlisted people that make his career.

  •  Lower enlisted, lower enlisted, lower enlisted. (12+ / 0-)

    are depending on you and you aren't out in front

    O-5s are not leading troops at the front. This is quite rare.
    and by this diary you don't have their back either.

    Nice.

    Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

    by 88kathy on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:34:24 AM PST

  •  The problem isn't that you're paid too much (28+ / 0-)

    it is that others are paid too little.
    This:

    and sticking around
    Job loyalty, (which is no longer valued in the private sector) trained worker retention, is part of why you make a good check.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:35:19 AM PST

  •  Trojan Horse (9+ / 0-)

    We need to slash the salaries of regular soldiers and junior officers down to the barest of bones. That is the argument you are really making here, right?

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:40:06 AM PST

  •  I hope that you are (11+ / 0-)

    active in helping homeless veterans, disabled vets, etc, etc, etc.
    Like MB says

    " Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe. "

    Only thing more infuriating than an ignorant man is one who tries to make others ignorant for his own gain. Crashing Vor

    by emmasnacker on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:50:08 AM PST

    •  Yeah, don't hold your breath (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SuetheRedWA

      I don't find it likely at all. If he was, he would have mentioned that there are people like that.

      "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

      by MargaretPOA on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:30:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How does a middle school principal without (2+ / 0-)

    a true edu degree run an American school at an Army base in Korea, drive a Mercedes, wear a mink and clear about $175K per year?

    "He went to Harvard, not Hogwarts." ~Wanda Sykes
    Teh Twitterz, I'z awn dem.
    Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

    by OleHippieChick on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:52:04 AM PST

    •  connections? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OleHippieChick

      did I get it right?

    •  Driving a Mercedes in Korea? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OleHippieChick

      What a pretentious person

      Which base are they at if I may be snoopy?

      •  Hi Mtracy. Seoul. The DODDS Army school there (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Militarytracy

        with the crappy, secret-type Web site. Everyone else is proud and forthcoming about their schools.
        They drove my bro crazy. It's a clique-y, snipey business with a touch of Lord of the Flies. Outpost mentality. No one is watching.
        He transferred away to teach USAF kids at Osan. He adores Korea, not the armed forces.
        Because the cities are in basins surrounded by their beautiful mountains, he's breathing shit air from China. They don't let the kids out of school on days like that.

        "He went to Harvard, not Hogwarts." ~Wanda Sykes
        Teh Twitterz, I'z awn dem.
        Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

        by OleHippieChick on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 05:24:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wish him the best (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OleHippieChick

          My spouse is at camp Red Cloud right now.  Your bro will know where that is.  I will ask my spouse if he knows what the skinny is.

          My two nieces went to grade school at Osan for four years.  The family loved Korea so much they snuck an extra year in hemming and hawing with assignments a little, small world.  They both graduated H.S. valedictorian and got full rides and  currently attending University of Vermont.

        •  Ahhh, a big GS job (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OleHippieChick

          I didn't know if they were using contractors or what.  It is a phat GS job.  The GS system has pluses and it has minuses.  It is a union though none of them will ever use that word, and they get different hiring preferences.

          Maybe her mink is a Korean fake :)

          I stayed a summer in Korea and I would have never driven an expensive car there.  We did have an old Hyundai, they used to call them $1,000 cars.  Incoming soldier would buy the old car from outgoing soldier for a $1,000 and they came with a neighborhood mechanic who had kept the thing running for God knows how many soldiers :)  Strange driving laws though, if you were in an accident the fault would lie with the person who was latest filing the report, strange system.

          They used to let you take your motorcycle over, but they ended that.  Wonder how she got a Mercedes in Korea, I hope it was worth it.  We are going again for a summer this year.  I hope the pollution isn't too bad.  Ten years ago it would leave a black film on your tile or linoleum and you had to clean it off every day.  Spouse can't tell if it has gotten worse because he didn't clean many floors back then, but he does now :)

  •  That wasn't where I was going with this.. (30+ / 0-)

    .. And I can see how you drew that conclusion, so perhaps I expressed myself poorly.

    There's substantial pressure on the military budget, as there should be in my opinion. But drawing a line in the sand that says "protect military pay" ignores what I believe to be an unrealized fact: that field officers and flag offers are overcompensated.

    I would of course prefer to invest the savings in improving junior enlisted pay, benefits, housing, and so on.

  •  I never felt particularly overpaid. (15+ / 0-)

    For reference, I left active duty as an O-3 and have since made O-4 as a reservist. I will also say without reservation that the enlisted personnel with whom I served were absolutely not overpaid. My active career was freakishly busy. I drove my first marriage into the ground because I basically wasn't there for it (we managed to have about one year together in four years of marriage), spent seven out of ten years overseas, and in general spent nearly a decade incapable of having things like hobbies and friends (outside the fleeting acquaintances one makes in the service). There was one assignment where that was not the case, and I cherished every day of it, but the others consisted of either being downrange the entire time or being Stateside but still working about sixteen hours a day. I am grateful for the travel, the experience and the adventure, but I definitely left active duty feeling like the military had gotten its money's worth out of me.

    Everyone's mileage varies, of course. I've been surprised a few times meeting people who served during roughly the same period of time I did yet managed to have uneventful careers and stable family lives, but those people are by far the exception.

    That is not to say that the military doesn't waste unholy scads of money, because it does! I can think of a few major weapons systems rolling off the assembly line right now that have price tags in the billions and absolutely no business existing in my reality. Some of these are poised to be massive drains on the taxpayers' pocketbooks for the foreseeable future. So I'm sorry, sir. I cannot agree that paychecks are where the trimmable fat lies, and for every officer who is actually doing pretty well, there are many enlisted men and women barely scraping by. The logic here is a bit like Republicans saying that we can't afford to give food stamps to poor people while defending every corporate subsidy and tax loophole under the sun. I think the term for that is "penny-wise, pound-foolish."

    "You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room is the greatest arsenal we could have—arm yourselves!" -The Doctor

    by quillsinister on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:24:44 AM PST

    •  Few people who make a lot of money feel (6+ / 0-)

      overpaid. Just an observation.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:57:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True enough. (2+ / 0-)

        However, I hope I'd need to hit at least six figures before I completely lost my objectivity and succumbed to the hubris of the 1%. :-)

        "You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room is the greatest arsenal we could have—arm yourselves!" -The Doctor

        by quillsinister on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:01:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's easy to become comfortable, if one (2+ / 0-)

          is lucky enough, at least in my experience (first- and second-hand). Doesn't even take that much.

          Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

          by peregrine kate on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:19:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, Kate. (5+ / 0-)

            We live in a country where a CEO will make 380 times their average worker's pay and still legally owe less than the poverty rate in taxes. We live in a country where a Fortune 500 corporation can reap eleven-figure profits and be taxed not a single red cent. Meanwhile (and this was part of my point in my original post), we talk about how we can't afford food stamps for the least privileged among us. You're doing more or less the same thing, you're just aiming ever-so-slightly higher on the socioeconomic ladder, but still far lower than the real source of our troubles. From another angle, do you really think you're going to save a significant amount of money by lowering military pay? Cancelling unnecessary military acquisitions, sure. We're paying billions for toys of dubious actual value. Avoiding asinine wars, hell yes. Iraq alone will end up with a price tag well in excess of three trillion when all is said and done. But you've chosen to focus (Jeebus only knows why) on the area that will inflict the most pain with the least actual benefit.

            If you're suggesting we cut the pay of senior officers in order to give a raise to junior enlisted personnel, that's something I might be on board with, but our pay scale is already pretty much a socialist's dream, especially compared with our tax-dodging plutocracy and how much they poop on their lower ranks.

            "You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room is the greatest arsenal we could have—arm yourselves!" -The Doctor

            by quillsinister on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:30:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not sure how you read that much into my (4+ / 0-)

              statement.
              For the record: clearly, it's true that the greatest source of military expenditures comes from unnecessary, hugely expensive hardware (meaning planes and ships, that is), in close contention with all the unnecessary duplication of services among the branches. That's saying nothing of the extreme inefficiencies in outsourcing support to contractors and mercenaries. I think that Andrew Bacevich, among others, has done a great job in analyzing these endemic problems in far more detail than I can provide here. And Chalmers Johnson, in documenting all the costs, monetary and otherwise, in maintaining a footprint in hundreds of places around the globe. Salaries and benefits are pretty far down the ladder in terms of MIC excess--especially for enlisted personnel, and especially when many of the promises, implicit and otherwise, made to veterans for decent medical care (including mental health services) are broken regularly and with impunity. And I do appreciate that the ratio between the pay of a 4-star general and his equivalent and the lowest private is likely to be in the low two digits. That's not a bad thing.
              Are we in agreement with all of the foregoing?
              All that said, I am not backing down from my assertion that someone in the OP's position of making nearly $200 K/year is overpaid. Or from my later assertion that it is easy to become comfortable and comparatively insulated.
              The most I have ever made in my 56 years was $40,000 plus benefits. (It's not clear that I'll make more than that ever, having wound up with a serious illness for which I qualified for SSDI.) That's with a Ph.D., which only goes to show how much advanced education does not easily translate into decent pay. But that was far more than the $15,000 I made the first year after I completed my degree--as a single parent, with two dependents. And the difference in making just over twice that low amount was life-changing.
              That's my point of reference when I say that it's relatively easy to become accustomed to making more money. It's all relative, yes, but I hope you would agree with me, and make common cause over, the concept that it's high time that the floor got raised and the ceiling got lower. For everyone, including the military.

              Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

              by peregrine kate on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:58:01 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm a science PhD who made close to $100,000 (3+ / 0-)

                for only about ten years of my career, now at age 61 there aren't any companies out there who want me at any price. I figured I'd be making a decent salary for my entire career, but that is becoming rarer and rarer.

                Nobody gave a crap about my military experience, in fact if they found out I served in Nam they'd try to get rid of me right away. Lost a couple jobs that way.

                Fortunately, I helped start a company that gave me stock options that eventually will be worth millions, otherwise I'd be up shit creek right now.

                New PhDs, fresh law school grads, jeesh, they all have it real bad right now for the most part.

                I should have taken over my Dad's CPA accounting firm. I'd be making $300,000 a year easy right now, probably a lot more. At least my wife would have been happy.

                All it would have taken would have been four lousy years of college instead of the ten years I had to put in to get an MS and PhD.

              •  Thanks for the clarification. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AaronInSanDiego, Militarytracy

                For the record, I lean pretty far to the left even by European standards. When I said that the military's income distribution was a socialist's dream, I was speaking as something of a socialist myself. So you won't get any argument from me about raising the floor and lowering the ceiling. But I've also looked at the math behind America's mind boggling wealth inequality (the sheer magnitude of which is not widely understood—perhaps not even by you, Doctor) and realize that, were corporate America to embrace something like our pay scale, all of America's financial problems would be solved practically overnight. In the past, we partially controlled this inequality with a 90+% top marginal tax bracket, but then we turned capitalism into a bizarre suicide cult where the will of an Invisible Hand dictated the fates of mere mortals, and things went downhill rapidly from there.

                As an O-1, I was already making more than my father, who spent something like 35 years as a high school teacher. On one hand, my father never had to cancel his own honeymoon to go to war, and never faced a situation where a moment's carelessness on his part could result in the deaths of all of his students or the destruction of the school. Things like coming home to his wife every evening and having a circadian rhythm were things he took for granted, whereas to me they were the domain of fairy tales. That's fine, though. I knew what I was getting into, and went out of my way over the years to find assignments that looked interesting, so at least part of that was my own fault. I take it the author did not do this.

                Still, it may surprise you to know that my salary, while ample for my needs, actually amounted to below minimum wage when translated into an hourly rate. And I got shot at! So, no, I am still not inclined to consider myself as having been overpaid. I will say that there is no reason on Zeus' green Earth that an educated professional like a teacher starting out in their career should not make something like O-1 pay, though. As an officer, I was solidly middle class; I believe teachers should be as well. And even an unskilled worker just starting out should not have to worry about things like healthcare and starting to save for retirement. We could have these thing, if we weren't ruled by an infant aristocracy (sans noblesse oblige) who are perfectly willing to sacrifice the future of a nation for their own temporary enrichment.

                One final point, and I've hesitated to make it because I don't like inter-service rivalry and I don't even know what branch the author is in. For my branch and specialty, our command opportunities begin at the O-5 level. This involves inescapable personal responsibility for 300+ lives as well as a billion dollars worth of taxpayer investment. It is an awesome amount of responsibility that would break the mind of most people who had not spent a substantial portion of their life preparing for it. I have seen the toll that experience takes on people, and their families. Nobody does a job like that for the money, but by the same token, I am disinclined to see the money they do receive as excessive.

                I will not argue, however, that you should not have been making more money. Since my plans for the immediate future involve a doctoral program, and my girlfriend already has hers, I am not without my concerns for the future on that account. But, as ironic as it may seem, the military is kind of a brilliant laboratory for progressive issues if you disregard the rigid hierarchy and the curiously large numbers of wingnuts in the ranks. We were the first to eliminate segregation, we have universal healthcare, we pay both genders equally without exception and we enjoy a pretty egalitarian income distribution perhaps rivaled only by actual worker's collectives (we have a few in my neck of the woods, and I admire them greatly). Society does require correction, but I would begin by restoring sanity to our tax codes and forcing the corporate world to adopt something closer to our model, and see how far that gets us. If it's not all the way to where we want to be, then we can go farther and I will happily join you. :-)

                "You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room is the greatest arsenal we could have—arm yourselves!" -The Doctor

                by quillsinister on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 11:24:34 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sorry I missed your reply till now. (0+ / 0-)

                  I do realize that the risks and responsibilities involved in military command are exceptional, far beyond what most people in civilian life must carry. I will only say that the immediate dangers are present for some but apparently not for others. And I am also aware that the military pay scales, and to some extent the ranking system, is a model of egalitarianism compared with many other sectors. Funny how it can happen when there is pressure brought to bear.

                  It is difficult to get one's mind around the great quantities of wealth that a very few human beings now control. Few people can. If you'd like a visual aid, you might find this one illuminating. The dimensions are appropriate and accurate, and no less mind-boggling to have it represented graphically. Next time you can skip the condescension.

                  But I am sure that both of us would prefer to act fully as allies. I hope that proves to be possible over time.

                  Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

                  by peregrine kate on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 05:44:57 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thanks for the visual aid. (0+ / 0-)

                    I hadn't seen that one before. I usually refer people to this one when I need to provide a demonstration. I appreciate its central theme, that most of us have no idea how things actually stand.

                    I do consider you and I to be allies. At this point, we've become a money-driven aristocracy merely enacting a charade of being a democratic republic. Next to climate change, I can think of no more urgent issue to address in our nation. And it's one of those issues that must be resolved before we can have any real chance of addressing a host of other issues. In the face of that, how can we not be allies?

                    "You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room is the greatest arsenal we could have—arm yourselves!" -The Doctor

                    by quillsinister on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 01:27:25 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, Bookends... (24+ / 0-)

    I found your first diary to be interesting and informative.
    You write well and make a good point.
    As you can tell by some of the comments, we can be a tough crowd to play to. Don't let that be an impediment to your contribution to the site.
    Indeed, I look forward to seeing you add more to the dialog.

    All sane people detest noise. Mark Twain

    by Man Oh Man on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:27:11 AM PST

  •  Are you bragging or complaining? (0+ / 0-)

    I am Joe's Steven......

    by Joes Steven on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:31:42 AM PST

  •  Welcome to Daily Kos, (16+ / 0-)

    and thank you for the information. We seldom hear people admit that they're overpaid in whatever work they do. I know a retired civilian who was a GS-15 in the Army, and his retirement pay roughly equals yours. He never sacrificed and as never in danger. That appalls me.

    Your forthright honesty is admirable, and if more spoke up as you have, it would draw attention to -- and hopefully lessen -- the apparent ubiquitous inequity.

    "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

    by cotterperson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:36:17 AM PST

  •  We don't spend too much on the military? (0+ / 0-)

    I am not understanding the comments here justifying more spending on the military.

    •  they aren't justifying spending more (6+ / 0-)

      they are saying the problem isn't that military folks are over-compensated.  The problems are a bloated procurement system, paying for billions of dollars in things we don't need, unnecessary wars, etc.

      •  And there's the problem... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego

        People are basically frothing about "THE problem" - or their take on "THE problem."

        The diarist brought "A problem" to the table, and is being verbally smacked down for his trouble.

        It's as if he failed some sort of purity test because he DIDN'T write about the plight of the lower enlisted, he DIDN'T write about the bloated spending on weapons systems and procurement, he DIDN'T write about 'unnecessary wars,' et cetera.

        I think we can all agree that there are multiple problems in US military spending. This diarist wrote about the one that, for him, is "closest to home."

        There's nothing wrong with that, and it certainly doesn't deserve the scorn being displayed in the comments.

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 06:43:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  with respect (10+ / 0-)

    I'm also an officer, and an attorney, and I'm not remotely overpaid with respect to my field and years of being an attorney.

    I could easily be earning twice what I earn now.  I am a minority who graded on to the law review at a Tier 1 (barely) law school.  I could have started at 6 figures at my pick of law firms.

    I started at half that and over time have worked myself up to right around 6 figures thanks to my prior enlisted time.

    Plenty of junior and mid-level enlisted also aren't overpaid, and plenty of junior officers are not overpaid.

    And an O-5 is the beginning of upper management IMO, not middle management.  O-3/O-4 is middle management.  O-5/O-6 is upper management.  O-7 and about are board members to extend the metaphor.

    •  Try being a federal civilian (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      codairem, 2dot, yoduuuh do or do not

      Nice that you think everyone else in management is earning so much, but keep in mind as you work with your civilian peers in the DoD that federal civilian managers at equivalent levels (e.g., O-5 'upper management' to GS-14/15) earn about 1/2 in total compensation of what their military counterparts do.  Including the thousands of attorneys working at DoJ and other agencies.

      •  I didn't say everyone else (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        2dot

        in management is earning so much.

        Most civilians who are considered management in the federal civilian workforce are more likely to be SES level in my experience, but if they are O-5 equivalent then I don't know why you think I would assert they are treated better or differently.

        Just a weird comment where you read stuff into what I wrote that has no reasonable basis.

        •  Seems to be (0+ / 0-)

          something going around here.  Like a bad germ spreading from one to another.  Misreading, adding thoughts that aren't there, adds up to people that want to be angry and belligerent.

          Everyone! Arms akimbo! 68351

          by tobendaro on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 05:17:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  You're not a line officer which is different. (0+ / 0-)

      JAG and medical field professionals, the two I can think of right away, are/were often brought into the service at higher ranks, provided bonuses, and/or educated at government expense in recognition of the requirement for higher compensation if the service was to recruit better professionals to do military service. It is necessary to recruit and retain high quality professionals just as it is necessary to offer retention bonuses in critical career fields. This is how it has been since the beginning of the All Volunteer Force concept replaced the draft as the primary manpower management concept.

      Not every military member has the same responsibilities or work load when compared to peers like the diarist said. The $600.90 base pay I received as a 2LT in 1973 compensated me for the efforts I put into learning to fly jets. My infantryman 2LT counterpart in the Army probably was saddled with the care and feeding of an entire infantry platoon. Our responsibilities were far different although my pay was higher because I received flight pay. That doesn't really seem equitable on an individual basis now does it? I suspect the same goes for our LTC who wrote this diary (and is getting his lumps for not being sufficiently mindful of all of our pet peeves with military compensation for his effort). Being in the Northern Virginia area I think it is highly possible he could be a denizen of the five sided squirrel cage in Arlington where a LTC is often not much more than a gofer and coffee pot monitor. His contemporaries might be commanding a warship in the Gulf or commanding a squadron of F-22s. The level of responsibility of each of these officers is different while each might at times find him/herself in positions of greater or lesser responsibility. The military pays for that difference in aggregate rather than individually. He may easily be overpaid for what he does while you may be overworked and underpaid.

      I remember my seven day work weeks where I left the squadron 12 hours before I had to be back to fly the next day. I vividly remember my former wing commander who had been promoted to brigadier general asking the participants in one of my ACSC seminars when we went home each night. I was then at my last duty station before separating which was the headquarters for the four star or a major command. Our seminar comprised staff officers, a doctor, a couple command level JAG officers and a few of us knuckle head throttle jockeys. Monty went through the staff guys before he asked me. My answer was "When I'm finished with the day's work or 12 hours before I have to be back." That was his point. All of us have different experiences and responsibilities that can and will change at any moment while we are compensated for the rank we had obtained.

      Respectfully, deal with it. I finished ACSC by seminar even as I was separating after nearly eleven years of active service to start an airline career, something I said I'd never do. I wasn't upset about being underpaid or overworked at the time, though I was, but I was extremely unhappy that the AF manpower management policy that was about to send me back to do what I'd done six years before and swore I'd never do again. I voted with my feet. It is always an option when serving is no longer enough and you decide you have to do something for yourself and your family.

      Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

      by VTCC73 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:26:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  line officers often do (0+ / 0-)

        just as much, if not more work, that is just as, if not more, important than lawyers and doctors...the only difference is it's harder to entice doctors and lawyers to take the pay cut because of the high pay.

        That doesn't mean the non-docs/lawyers are overcompensated as the article suggests.  A pilot in the military could earn more on the outside.  

        Sure, not all O-5s are created equal in regards to responsibility at all times, my jobs have varied from jobs that kept me in the office until 2000 or later, and jobs I left at 1700...just like a lot of other officers.

        Deal with what? I pointed out that I disagreed that officers are overcompensated.  What is there to "deal" with?

        •  Ut Prosim (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          riprof

          "That I may serve" was my university's motto. The school is a land grant university that was founded not long after the civil war. It was a military school until 1922 and participation in the Corps was required until 1966. My first firm concept of service was learned there during four years as a cadet and ROTC scholarship student. I understand that there is a direct conflict between the idea of service and fully compensated work.

          Compensation is what separates a soldier, sailor, airman, and marine from a mercenary. Military pay in the field grade ranks and higher has, as claimed by the diarist, gotten out of control in an effort to recruit and retain highly skilled professionals in the military. High retention rates are a necessary component that enables the All Volunteer Force concept that replacde conscription as the primary means to man our military. Advances in technology and a requirement for well educated highly trained people have changed the American tradition of a voluntary non-professional military that was abhorred at the time of our founding and more or less up through WW2. Until now we have a diarist who admits to being paid multiples of national median income as an O-5. A rank that usually qualifies it's holder as a gopher or coffee pot monitor in the five sided squirrel cage in Arlington.

          I see the issue of excessive compensation in the military to be a product the natural evolution of our military from grunt centric to high tech, a growing realization that we spend an unsustainable portion of our GDP on military forces and toys, a declining willingness of a large portion of our society to accept the hardships of military service without commensurate pay, and people unable to see the potential unhappiness that often follows the rise of a powerful professional military. The use of contractors to perform previously unique military tasks and missions is only the beginning of a transition of military service in the US to mercenary forces. These are issues that we will likely become more obvious later in this century.

          The question I have for you is if the military paid you the big dollars you might make in private or corporate practice then why would they need you to be an officer? Outsource the work. It's worked in industry why not the military? And why should they give you credit for serving if it is just another job? Now take those ideas and apply them to an infantry officer or nuclear submarine engineering officer. How would that change the relationship of our military to the rest of our citizens?

          Deal with it? You are serving your country as a highly skilled attorney who accepted a way of life and a set of conditions and restrictions on your rights and freedoms when you took the oath. Overworked and underpaid is part of the deal. Leave the service if you no longer accept the deal or continue to do your duty with the gratitude of your country. But don't expect credit for service and being fully compensated for your work because that makes you a mercenary instead of a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine. I'm not trying to be harsh. I'm only trying to invite thinking about the nature of service.

          Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

          by VTCC73 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:46:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  dont agree with any of that (0+ / 0-)

            1. how has military compensation gotten out of control?  There are junior enlisted on food stamps. No one joins the military because it pays more than they can make in another field.  O5s do a lot of things in the army, so presenting them as you do is not just inaccurate, it's glib and uniformed.

            2. If the military paid me the big dollars why would they need the work? How do you outsource operational law decisions when the cdr needs to know right now whether the law of war allows this building to be targeted or that weapon to be used against that enemy? How do you outsource conducting a court-martial in the middle of a war zone?  How do you outsource the creation of legal systems in-country?  Again, you have very little understanding of how the military legal system works if you think it can easily be outsourced given what our military does.  

            Applying those same ideas is even easier.  What's the corrolative job for an infantry officer? How do you outsource a naval nuke sub engineer?  

            3. I didn't "ask" for credit for my service.  You are free to give or not give me "credit" as you wish.  Few Soldiers "ask" for "credit" and most of the ones I know are somewhat uncomfortable with the idea.  You come into this with a lot of wrong preconceptions quite frankly.

    •  May I point out that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AaronInSanDiego

      you seem to be using overpaid in two different senses here.  When you say that you’re not overpaid with respect to your field and experience, you’re simply making a comparison with what is customary.  When you say that lower-grade personnel are not overpaid, I suspect that you’re using the word at least partly with moral connotations.  It would benefit the discussion to keep the two senses straight.

    •  O-5s, O-6s are certainly just middle managers (0+ / 0-)

      merely follow orders, never make any decisions at all. They spend all their time making sure everyone below them follow orders and that's it.

      That's middle management.

      You have to be a prick, too.

      •  Um... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego

        ...it all depends on their current assignment.

        I wouldn't call the O-5 CO of a 700-man Combat Engineer battalion "middle management."

        I wouldn't call the O-6 CO of a Stryker brigade "middle management."

        Now, that same O-5 or O-6 could move to a staff assignment that roughly parallels our civilian notion of "middle management," or they might rotate to an operational staff assignment that sits outside that parallel.

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 07:09:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The US can simultaneously... (9+ / 0-)

    - protect and strengthen support for low ranked military
    - limit the exorbitant (imHo) compensation & early retirement pkgs for sr ranks
    - reduce the size and cost of the military
    - make good on existing commitments
    - reduce the DOD budget radically & eliminate majority of over 700 worldwide bases.

    To the extent that you're providing info to support all of those goals, thanks.

  •  a minor quibble (that matters to many) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Thinking, codairem

    I have a friend who is a military widow (therefore has commissary privileges for herself and a guest - me) so I can say from personal experience that a person shopping at the commissary would be hard pressed to save only 10%.
    Good.

  •  Since wheni is a middle class income (3+ / 0-)

    "overpayment" for being a middle manager?  105k won't even qualify you to buy a house in most major metro markets.

    The problem with this analysis is that it doesn't take into account how underpaid most military are below the officer grades.  By the time officers reach O-5 they make barely adequate pay, while thae lower level enlisted don't even make minimum wage.

    You can tell Monopoly is an old game because there's a luxury tax and rich people can go to jail.

    by Simian on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:41:49 AM PST

  •  No. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady

    You are not overpaid.  Your valuation for being overpaid is a comparison with others you know, anecdotal data, and an assessment of worth.  

    This is wrong.  The problem is, the entire market, of almost all employees are being -underpaid- you just find yourself feeling less underpaid then others.

    The fact that we value ourselves against a payscale that punishes many is not a fitting way to realize that those who are being vastly underpaid are.  

    I'm glad you feel as though you're paid too much.   But the fact that you feel that way doesn't reflect the reality of pay VS what the market should be.  :)

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:58:51 AM PST

    •  I'm pretty sure he's overpaid. (0+ / 0-)

      And man, do I know the type!

      How many people on this site published a diary before ever venturing a comment, about anything?  In my view, it's telling.  This is a guy who's whole attitude screams: "I'm an O-5, dammit--respect me!"

      To avoid starting dumb wars, punish the dumb people who vote for them.

      by joesig on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:24:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not to me, it doesn’t. (3+ / 0-)

        And I was a junior enlisted man once upon a time, drafted out of grad school; my monthly pay in 1971 ranged from about $1000 (as an E-3) to about $1440 (as an E-4) in today’s dollars.  (I couldn’t actually remember, so I got these figures from the tables here and an inflation calculator.  For those who are curious, the tables give $1805.40 and $1999.50 as the corresponding current figures – still pretty bad, but a bit better than it was.)

  •  If you were in the private sector at an equivalent (3+ / 0-)

    'rank', I imagine you would be substantially more overpaid.

  •  Boy does this bring back memories (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, RMForbes, wishingwell

    Officers forgetting to even mention the enlisted soldiers who have substantially different experiences in the same military.

    Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

    by moviemeister76 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:06:38 AM PST

  •  I agree, you're overpaid. (6+ / 0-)

    What do you, personally, think should be done about it? What sort of action(s) do you plan to take to correct it?

    This tends to be a rather wealthy crowd here at DKos, so you might not get much support for your original premise. But to have a gross income, including allowances and special perks, approaching $200,000 per year is indeed gross. (Frankly, I feel the same way about most people in the private sector, too. Let the pie-flinging begin.)

    What's the ratio between your pay and that of entry-level soldiers? I agree with later commenters who say that the enlistees are getting the short end of the stick, and that such a misalignment of funding needs to be addressed.

    All that said, clearly you have an interesting perspective to bring to bear, which you express thoughtfully, and I hope you continue to post.

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:08:30 AM PST

    •  It would be worthwhile (good diary) (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Embassy, codairem, buddabelly

      to check what an enlisted person makes and compare it The last time I did the same thing as the diarist, an enlisted man at a low E level (equivalent to a Private first class) made the equivalent of $51,000 a year in pay and benefits . Obviously the pay itself is only half so it seems small to many.

      But that's not unusual at this site as no one seems to put a value to the the benefits package that the troops get or Govt workers get at lower to higher levels.

      Note that housing allowance and why it would be the equivalent of buying a $600,000 house. Housing allowances are also available for the lower ranks.  Also compare to the private sector where housing now averages 50% of of a persons take-home pay (on average) for a civilian in the private sector.
      It is true that  very high level officers at one point told congress to stop giving the enlisted men raises because their pay had gone up around 40% in the
      double-oughts. This was causing them headaches trying to get some of the more high level weapons programs funded. Just the amount of F-35s the military committed to is 380 Billion worth for a plane that still is limited and gets grounded way to much.  

      The best thing to do is to try to find a equivalent job that a 18 year with no college ( obviously) could start at the equivalent of $51,000 a year. See what other jobs are available to a a person just out of high school with the same pay and benefits. Yes it can be dangerous. It's also a job you simply can't quit once you sign up. You have to desert in order to quit even though you have voluntarily sign up.

      There has been many abuses of the pay system where at least one ( I think) has been fixed. That was when officers who had enough power to book a military flight for themselves would go into a combat area for one day and pay no taxes for that month and (I believe)  the previous month if timed correctly. At the higher ranks if done all year that would be like a $100,000+ gross pay benefit.

      Finally,the diarist wrote an excellent diary on pay and benefits at his or her level.  The diary would have been too long for most if he started discussing enlisted benefits. I would have read it, but most would see the length and move on.

      The diary is well done and thought provoking. That's what a diary is supposed to do. What it shouldn't do is provoke personal insults.

      “ Success has a great tendency to conceal and throw a veil over the evil of men. ” — Demosthenes

      by Dburn on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:51:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this diary. (7+ / 0-)

    I wish more civilians understood that the military isn't a monolith. While those at the bottom struggle there are many at the top who are doing very well. It's another example of the income inequality that is plaguing this country, and I commend you for  shining a light on that reality.

    You're like a one-percenter pointing out that a system that benefits them so well is inherently fucked up, and I thank you for that.

    People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them. --Eric Hoffer

    by fiddler crabby on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:22:35 AM PST

  •  Truly mixed here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego

    I think you're trying to say something that has some merit, but you're not saying it very well at all.

    As others have noted, first and foremost, it's not so much that you're overpaid than it is Enlisted are obscenely underpaid. But I've always wondered about the scales for some of the premiums and bonuses for retirees. Hazard pay, I get. You were out there putting yourself in harms way. OTOH, BAS and BAH have always flummoxed me, still being paid to folks who no longer really have a need to have the military subsidize their private residence, long after they've left active service.

    Years ago, I was in a position to see this firsthand, when I worked at a credit union serving the armed forces.  The BAS and BAH are based on a formula dictated by either where you last served or where you live in your retired years, right? And that's based on...IIRC...either COLA or some sort of pricing index. I remember thinking that maybe some of the scales were a little whack, depending on where you were serving and/or living. Metro DC, when I lived there, had a huge COLA relative to a lot of other places, so the BAS and BAH were generous. But they were really generous.

    Did you earn it? Sure! You served for at least 20 years, you ought to get "a good deal". The problem is, if you're suggesting that officers, say, shouldn't get as much in BAS or BAH every month, you might want to also suggest they simply take that money and give it to the E-1 through E-6. That could have been your last paragraph, instead of stacking yourself up against the POTUS and the VP and SCOTUS.  

    Hell, everybody knows they're all overpaid. No offense, but that kind of tanked your whole argument...
     

    This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

    by lunachickie on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:32:53 AM PST

    •  in addition (0+ / 0-)

      (cuz I forgot to mention this!), there are two separate sets of BAS and BAH scales, right? One for enlisted and a higher one for officers?

      That makes no sense at all--I mean it does mathematically, for the purpose of calculation, but if it's all based on your base pay to start with? Stuff like that should be strictly about where you live. Your home still costs the same, whether you're an officer or not.

      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

      by lunachickie on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:41:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Retired don't get BAH/BAS (4+ / 0-)

      Ever. Never have. That's strictly active duty.

      All retired get is based on their base pay at retirement. Allowances don't enter into the equation.

      Retired do get commissary/BX privileges, but whether that's a big deal depends a lot on where you are. I haven't shopped at the commissary in years, except when I visit my daughter. I find I can do about as well, with a lot more flexibility and variety, off base. But we have a good selection of supermarkets, and if you don't, the commissary is helpful. And the BX is limited in more ways than I want to get into here, so I haven't shopped there in ages either.

      Medical IS a big deal, and if they try to limit or cut that for active duty or retirees it would be a real problem.

      •  Ahhh, ok. (0+ / 0-)

        Thank you!  Either I knew that and forgot, or I never knew that. That makes sense. It's been 20 years since I thought very much about stuff like this.

        And I wholeheartedly agree with the rest of what you're saying, especially the "medical" part. That's huge!

        Hmm. Lemme make sure I didn't at least tip this thing and maybe remedy that...

        This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

        by lunachickie on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:49:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I wish they would give us Obamacare (0+ / 0-)

        And things changed recently at Lyster and I don't know how or why. If your PCM is on vacation you used to be screwed.  If you needed an appointment for some sort of flare up of some kind...too bad, if it isn't so bad you are inspired to go to the local hospital emergency room, you can wait a few weeks until your PCM gets back. If you were having prescription problems too bad too.  It was the worst medical system I had ever experienced and it was only dependents treated so horribly, soldiers had different physicians and a completely different track and there was always someone to call.

        Last time I was at Lyster they said they are redoing things, there will be someone to call 24/7 and there will be a way to be seen the same day you call when you need that.

        I smirked to myself....I think it's Obamacare that has accomplished this feat, this miracle.  We had such shitty healthcare in places and boy Lyster was one of them, and I think some people walked into the patient advocate here and asked for Obamacare.  I bet they even asked how much their current coverage costs, and argued that Obamacare was probably cheaper, because I'm sure it is :)

  •  I Have No Problem With That (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53

    Thank you for providing that data point, which is good for evaluating the argument about military pay.

    But, frankly, I don't consider military personnel generally overpaid. For one thing, everyone in the military has put their life on the line and can be sent to a shooting war at any time. For another thing, military personnel are essentially available for use 24 hours/day. If you were to divide the salary by the actual number of hours, you would not see a very high hourly rate.

    Also, for historical reasons, I don't think military pay should be subject to taxes. The reason is because originally the king raised armies to defend the nation. The king gave title to land in exchange for a fi, an obligation that included showing up to serve in the army.

    Eventually, this system was simplified to the payment of what we would call a tax rather than the obligation to show up in person. We pay taxes to the government to defend us. But those who are actually defending us by serving in the military are already fulfilling that fi, that obligation, to the sovereign.

    So, by ancient law, I would claim that military personnel should not be subject to taxes.

    If you were in my industry (IT) and you were a middle manager, you would probably be paid in the range of $190,000 per year for that type of job. So, I don't see that your pay is out of line with pay in private industry.

    And, I might ask, how much of our force is at a lower rank than O-5? If you are at the lowest level, you may not be making substantially more than a poverty-line wage. I would guess, just based on the hierarchical nature of the military that 95% of personnel are at a lower rank than O-5.

    And then, that brings me to the National Guard. Since we are now using the National Guard as front line troops, what do they get paid? Do they get paid like regular army? I rather doubt it.

    In any case, thank you for your service. In my opinion, someone becomes a hero when they sign up. They are putting their life on the line for the country. That's a heroic act.

    •  Deployed Guard/Reserve troops... (0+ / 0-)

      ...get the same basic pay as do active duty troops. They may also receive some (but not all) of the various allowances and stipends available to active duty troops.

      You can see the current figures for the Active Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve here.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 07:31:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is a big difference between O and E pay (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, reddog1

    Even senior NCO's are paid dramatically less than mid-grade officers:

    (1)  An E-7 at twenty years earns $4323 in base pay
    (2)  That same E-7 receives $2,565 in housing allowance at the with-dependent rate at Andrews AFB.
    (3)  The rations allowance for our E-7 is $323 per month.

    The complete compensation package is $7,211 per month...about 60% of what the O-5 earns.  Senior NCO's do directly lead as many as hundreds of troops and provide much of a unit's technical knowledge and process experience.  They are the civilian equivalent of superintendents and specialty leadership such as HR, safety, quality, training, and logistics.  Whether or not field grade officers are overpaid is debatable, but there is a danger in extrapolating such an argument to any enlisted member.

    It should also be pointed out that BAH rates assume renting in high-cost locations where the presence of a military base keeps housing occupancy high.  While it may be cheaper to buy a home with BAH money, many military members move often enough to render home ownership risky and burdensome.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:03:48 PM PST

    •  That level of pay doesn't seem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaveinBremerton

      particularly low to me.

      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:54:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's about on-par with equivalent civilian jobs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego

        I make about $15K more in the private sector than I did in an equivalent position in the Air Force.

        "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

        by DaveinBremerton on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:08:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  A word of caution... (3+ / 0-)

        Unions and federal workers were brought down with whisper campaigns that pitted working stiffs against working stiffs in a spiral of envy and finger-pointing.  As the defense budget shrinks, its primary benefactors--large defense contractors--are going to get more strident in moves to cut manpower costs in order to snag a bigger slice of the shrinking pie for themselves.

        A couple months ago I ran across a hit piece written by a defense industry lobbyist that chastised the Retired Officers Association for getting vocal in opposition to proposed hikes in Tricare health insurance premiums and changes to the military retirement system.  The hit piece was written in a rather nasty tone that I'd never heard before and it has bugged me ever since.

        Not that I don't think changes to military health care and pensions aren't inevitable...I think they are for various reasons, chief of which I believe are:

        (1)  A defense industry that sees the budgetary handwriting on the wall.
        (2)  Private security firms that see for themselves growth opportunity in active duty personnel cuts.
        (3)  A health care system that is grossly expensive to the point that it is impacting military readiness and therefore national security--but is too powerful to be given the haircut it desperately needs.

        Having those of us at the working-class end of the economic food chain at each others' throats has been an effective strategy thus far.

        "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

        by DaveinBremerton on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:26:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  oh (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DaveinBremerton

          the people can obviously chime in on how not good the government is at setting pay scales, and pitting the longer serving ones with promotions against the up and coming ones, and not notice they've been trolled.  Even here.  Elizabeth Warren would find them embarrassing?  

          •  Can't say I disagree (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            anna shane

            As a retired E-7 what shames me is the number of military enlisted members who are FOX News watching, union-hating, minimum-wage increase despising, right-wing robots.  I work on my circle of retired colleagues as best I can, but I wish they would wake up and smell the 1% coffee brewing.  A rude awakening is forthcoming.

            "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

            by DaveinBremerton on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:12:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  The people on food stamps are the enlisted (0+ / 0-)

    Yeah, you're overpaid. Almost all officers are overpaid, while the enlisted people that keep the airplanes flying and keep supplies flowing and do the actual fighting and basically make useless officers look good, are languishing in poverty. This has got to be one of the most clueless, insulting and offensively uninformed diaries I've ever read. I couldn't be made to care any less for the luxury or privation of officers. I doubt there is a single one on food stamps. Go back to your basket weaving because once again the REAL people who need a raise will do the work and YOU will be the one promoted for it. But you couldn't care any less about them, could you? After all, it's not like the enlisted are real people anyway, right?

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:10:45 PM PST

    •  Why? Where is this coming from? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Flying Goat, chaboard, tobendaro

      I don't get your hostility to the diarist.  I don't read any of the things you purport to see in what he actually wrote.

      What's up with that?

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 01:32:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow...take a breath. (0+ / 0-)

      Dial it back a notch. Just because the diarist didn't pick up YOUR topic of choice doesn't make it a bad diary - and it certainly doesn't merit this level of vituperation.

      Oh, and I'm saying this as one who was an underpaid enlisted man...and the son of a fairly well-compensated officer...who, in his day, started off as an underpaid enlisted man.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 07:36:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As ex-Army (3 years), you are talking about the 1% (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean

    My grand-daughter is married to an E-5(Corporal, or Senior Airman, you guess).  I was concerned when he enlisted after they got married, and then had a kid.  When I was in during the '50s the enlisted married guys had it tough.  It was in the days of the draft.  If you didn't like the pay you could go to jail.  If you'd never re-enlist they'd just draft your replacement.  The living allowances were small, as was the pay.  On-base quarters for married people were restricted to Master Sergeants and above.  

    They are now in on-base housing, much nicer than the slums outside the gate.  They worked in retail before, with no bennies or health insurance.  Us taxpayers paid for my great-grand-daughter's birth, and that was a great investment.  E-5's make more than I did, even accounting for inflation.  I hope that is a good effect of the all-volunteer service.  They aren't living opulently, but better than I would have had I been married when I was in.  I don't think any Tbaggers should be jealous of them.  They should volunteer to replace him if you think change needs to be made there.

    If you are saying that the 1% in the service is being over-compensated you are entitled to your opinion.  Please always state at the end of one of your notes that you are NOT talking about enlisted pay and benefits, just that of the 1%.  If all of the 1% had their compensation and benefits cut in half it would hardly be measureable in the overall defense budget.   It would be more beneficial to talk about how the 1% could be re-organized to be more effective.  Learn how to tell the politicians to take a hike when they try to co-opt you into saying something like the Iraquis were stock-piling WMDs.  

  •  Just to Make a Valid Comparison (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean

    You also should not underestimate pay in the private sector. You may be comparing your compensation with someone who makes, say, $100,000 in a private company. But their actual compensation is much higher than that. They may get $100K of take-home pay, but the company is paying on the order of $150K for them. That's really their total compensation.

    The reason is because there are a lot of overhead costs for the employee. For example:

    Payroll taxes (another roughly 7.5%)
    Healthcare coverage (routine for most professional jobs)
    401(k) (typical, and some, like mine, include matching)
    Other insurance (short-term and long-term disability, life insurance, etc.)

    I'm sure you get a better deal on retirement and healthcare, but when you compare your pay with pay in the private sector you need to take into account that there are also benefits in the private sector that you are not seeing in the base pay.

  •  Mixed feelings (0+ / 0-)

    But I do think you may be right.  Certainly officers are overpaid.

    If you look at the military pay chart, the lowest enlisted just off the street (without any skills or college) makes $1531.50 a month.  That does NOT include free housing (or a tax free housing allowance), free medical care, free meals (or a tax free meal allowance), a yearly clothing allowance of $1500-1700 a year depending on service.  That's for someone just starting out. In 4 months their base pay will go up to $1716.90.    

    Service members who are married and have children receive even more money (as housing allowance).  The military is the only job I can think of where people are paid more money based only on the service member being married and having children.  As a single soldier the entire time I was in, I always resented that.  Most military bases also have free schools for the children and very low-cost child care.  There's the tax free Commissary, PX/BX, gas station, auto shop, gym - most services on base are free or low cost.  Legal and tax services are free.

    When was in the army back in 1984, my monthly pay was $695 (I still have the pay stubs).   Even with inflation, it's a lot less than it is today - primarily because of the yearly pay increases the military has been getting.  It's also very good for someone with no skills just out of high school.  Add to the benefits the free training and free college tuition.  All in all it's actually quite good - not rich by any means, but not the "poor soldiers on food stamps"  that some would want you to believe.

  •  Kids? Family? College coming up? (6+ / 0-)

    My husband is an 0-6 and we live comfortably but I wouldn't say he is overpaid. I think he makes a family wage - one that helps support a spouse that can't find employment during multiple moves and will help put two kids through college. I think that combined salary and benefits help keep people like him willing to serve to career and maybe even a little beyond.

    And if Colonels and Generals need to see some trimming, so be it. I think we'll lose some quality over time. But I'll be damned if I'll see enlisted pay and benefits cut. I grew up the daughter of a Senior NCO and we don't pay them enough... especially today's NCO's who are often as college educated as any officer.

    BTW, welcome to DKos. Hope to see more military related diaries from you.

    •  I hope to see a counter-point diary from you. (0+ / 0-)

      Before you post give everyone a heads up, please.

      Those who fought the war in Afghanistan won it. Get them out of Afghanistan NOW . . . It's long past time. The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:36:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's hard for me to recommend your (0+ / 0-)

      Comment AJ.  It is a little too apologetic for me.  How come you don't have a $600,000 house someplace paid for by the government?  Oh Yeah, because you have been shuttled all over the world and you were using your BAH to pay rent while you kept up with making certain your globe trotting children had the educations they would need to get into college.

      You and your spouse have worked double time, just like we have.  And remember the lean years?  Thank God we were young, tough, creative.

      So now you're middle class for the next few years, and then and then and then and then....well, I hope you guys find the jobs you need and I hope we find the jobs we need to finish this life out.  I haven't worked since my disabled son was born.  It is not an option while one of us serves active duty.

      And the only way your spouse makes it up the food chain in the military is if one of you is available for all family emergencies.  This diary is horrible IMO, and you are way too apologetic for a couple of years of not having to worry quite so much as we come off two wars and the WOT, and oh yeah....retiring...all 4 of us close to 50 now and not exposed to a civilian job in how long?  My husband's last civilian job he worked produce at Publix :)  I'm sure there are bushels of money they just can't wait to throw at us :)

  •  we tend to have the idea that most people in the (0+ / 0-)

    military are risking death daily from enemy fire.

    They're not.

    Very few people in the military actually ever hear a shot fired in anger.  Most military personnel are not combat troops--they do the very same things civilians do---fix air conditioners or truck engines, figure out payrolls, manage warehouses and supply chains, or move paperwork from one desk to another.  Other than the uniform they wear while doing it, their job is no different than any civilian's.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:07:44 PM PST

    •  Except that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Turn Left, buddabelly, Militarytracy

      they don't work 8 hour days.  They aren't paid overtime or given compensatory time for hours beyond 40 per week, which is most weeks.  They have what is knows as "duty time" where they work outside of their "normal" work day and usually somewhere away from their actual work station.  They are inspected for proper appearance every day and formally inspected weekly, or if they are lucky, monthly.  Junior enlisted without families get their quarters inspected regularly, and a dirty room can result in even more "extra duty" time.  They don't have any say about where they go or what they do, and the dicipline often extends even to their off-time, off-base hours.  An officer's life is easier, except for the fact that if anything goes wrong within his/her chain of command the buck will stop at the officer's desk, and it will not be pretty.  I can think of no civilian jobs that are anywhere near as stressful as that of a platoon or company commander, and that includes support commands.

      The job is "no different than any civilian's".  

      •  all of those are true for salaried management too (0+ / 0-)

        No overtime, no set hours, no say about their job, never see their kids, buck stops there. All things that middle management everywhere gripes about.,  (shrug)

        The job is "no different than any civilian's".  
        Yes.  Installing the air conditioning on an Army base is no different than installing the air conditioning in suburban Toledo. Running the supply warehouse for a Navy base is no different than running a supply warehouse for WalMart. Replacing the motherboard on a US Air Force computer is no different than replacing the motherboard on one of the US Weather Service's computers.

        Most of the people in the armed forces don't carry a gun and never see an enemy country.

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:58:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is completely false (5+ / 0-)

      I've been in both worlds. I served in the military during peace time. It was still the most stressful job I've ever had. When I managed a movie store, I often worked 60 hours a week, took my work home with me, and it would take me hours to wind down at night. There was one stretch during Christmas season in which I worked 90 days straight. But it was nothing compared to what it was like in the military. The power structure and atmosphere in the military are so fundamentally different.

      When I went home as a store manager, sure I took my job with me, but I didn't feel like I was still technically at work. I could wear whatever I wanted, do whatever I wanted. There wasn't this oppressive feeling like I could be called into anything at moment. I had far less responsibilities as just an E-4 in the Army than as a store manager on one level, but it felt like I had a lot more to deal with in the Army.

      Being in the military is like being in this bubble. You are closed off from the outside world, and you never forget that. There are a lot more open shows of power in the Army, which make things more stressful. And a lot more abuses of power as well.

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:23:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  you are owned (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego, Militarytracy

        you don't have civilian civil rights. You can be transferred and separated from your family.  Your family may be on food stamps while you're getting shot at.  If you are in management, and you slack, bad contractors may be hired, and people have to wait longer for paperwork to be processed, or to receive necessary benefits. How long is the VA wait now for PTSD treatment?  

        The least problem of the military is a few officers who think they would earn less in the civilian world.  They may find they are unemployable in the civilian world, so would earn nothing, given how specific and non-civilian was their education and work experience. Or someone expects they're lazy cause they had kush government jobs and don't know how to work as long as necessary, or know how to take any initiatives.

        Bah humbug say I.  If you aren't in the military to serve, than don't be in the military. It isn't a civilian job.  

      •  I remember ironing a shirt one night... (5+ / 0-)

        ...I was getting ready to go out with my wife.  The phone rings.  It's my superintendent:

        "We need you in Bangkok"
        "When?"
        "Now".
        I finished ironing the shirt, grabbed my TDY gear and went to the shop to get tools and order parts for a broke aircraft.  Within a few hours I was in Okinawa's Naha airport catching a redeye to Bangkok along with about 500 pounds of tools and parts.

        I fixed that plane wearing the same shirt, slacks, and penny loafers that I'd been planning on wearing for my date with my wife.

        Telling the boss I had other plans was never even part of the thought process.

        Sure, some civilian jobs have this level of 24/7 commitment, but there is a difference:  if a civilian refuses to go, they might get fired.  If a military person refuses to go, they probably get court-martialed.  Unemployment vs. Leavenworth is a substantial difference.

        "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

        by DaveinBremerton on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:50:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  but (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DaveinBremerton

          can't you just quit? No, you have to go? Even when your kid is sick or your marriage in need of help?  Just like that. And they pay you according to your rank and scale, rationally, so black people make the same as white people?  But how about if someone knows they are overpaid, because they'd be paid a lot less in the private sector, do they still have to obey orders and not be able to quit? Even those overpaid ones?

          This guy is a troll.

          •  I'd be cautious about saying that (0+ / 0-)

            DKOS has a certain etiquette about calling out trolls.  I am assuming positive intent and perhaps a misguided view on military compensation that may be influenced by some trusted spin machine (i.e. FOX).

            "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

            by DaveinBremerton on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:18:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I truly am amazed at this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anna shane

    I am a disabled Vietnam veteran who fought years for VA compensation for my disabilities.  I have been intensely involved in the VA system for the past fifteen years - groups of PTSD/MST survivors, medical and psychiatric care from VA providers, twice hospitalized, and on and on.  It has been a bumpy ride.  I have never felt over-compensated for anything that came my way.  I remember the many holidays that I, as a young Airman, volunteered to work at my duty station so others with families could be home.  I remember being dropped off in Vietnam, out of a helicopter, at a small airfield where I had no idea who was in the truck heading directly toward me and my buddy (Americans).  I was sexually assaulted in Vietnam.  I am one of so many.  I cannot image how much money would compensate for all of that.  Can you?

    This Diary is strange.  I do not get the point.  I suspect it is not genuine and wholly truthful.  What is the message?

  •  This is true for an O-5... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaveinBremerton

    and in fact commissioned officers at all paygrades have a pretty good salary. But when you're talking about enlisted people, the story is very different.

    An E-6 with ten years earns $3331.50/month base pay, or $39,978 / annual. Add to this Housing Allowance which varies between $738.00 to $983.40 / month depending upon their marital status. If they are deployed and married, they will receive $250/month, but not if they're single.  Under some circumstances they will receive food allowance (BAS) of $357.55/month (except for sailors on sea duty, where their BAS goes directly to the ship).

    So overall, an E-6 (who does most of the grunt work in the military) will earn between $48,834 to $51,778.80 annual, plus BAS if eligible. Consider this is for work that is highly skilled, usually physically demanding, and might even get the person killed if deployed.

    If this is considered being overpaid, it's because of the pitiful low pay of most civilian jobs today. Yes Bookends, I agree you're overpaid. I recommend you make this case to your superiors, and get officer pay reduced, with the excess funds going to improve enlisted pay.

    Note also that retired pay is based on active duty BASE PAY, not total pay. In effect, a person's retired pay is about 25% of total active duty pay. Still better than most civilian jobs now-a-days, but again only because no civilian company offers fully funded pensions anymore.

    You're making a case for dragging military compensation down to the lowest civilian level.

    •  Not really (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Flying Goat

      Bookends is not "making a case for dragging military conpensation down to the lowest civilian level," as I read it. If so, he's failed miserably: The resultant discussion rightly has led to the premise that enlisted personnel are poorly paid, in relation to the pay stub of the O-5. He's pointed out that, in a system where 83% of those who stay in the program, (the officer ranks--he is talking about HIS sitation, not anyone else's) get promotions--pay goes up, too.
      While we seem to be shooting our messenger, it is great that the diarist has launched a great discussion, either by purpose or coincidence.  Thanks, Bookends.

      •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

        it isn't a diary about poorly paid soldiers, it's a diary about how the military pays more than minimum wage, and people don't need to be paid more than they 'deserve,' and surely don't need to be paid decently, and that's the problem in America  - workers expect to be paid too much. It's a Koch diary.  face it.

        And he's trying to seduce people who have never been in the military to a right wing position on wages and benefits.  

        Seems it's even worked.

        Bet he was paid too much to write it?

        •  You sure are reading a lot into it. n/t (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BMScott, buddabelly, ladybug53

          Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

          by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:12:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  that's what I do (0+ / 0-)

            I real closely.  I can recognize republican talking points.  It helps that this guy hadn't posted any comments and started out with a diary about military personnel being paid too much.

            Can't say I have ever noticed a troll before, but this is one.  

            •  I guess you're entitled to your opinion. n/t (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BMScott, buddabelly

              Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

              by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:18:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

                •  Well, given the hostile reception, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  buddabelly

                  it wouldn't surprise me if he doesn't post again.

                  Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                  by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:21:45 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  how convenient? (0+ / 0-)

                    if he's on the up and up, he needs to blog somewhere else if he wants a fine reception for such views.  He wants us to think that all in that rank are overpaid, and ergo? He wants us to think you can compare a civilian job with one where you lose your civil rights, can be sent anywhere, have to obey orders, are trained for a specific task and can't quit?  Really?  I don't think he's even in the military.  

                    I know military guys of that rank who spend hours a day watching what drones see and targeting hits.  Are they overpaid too?  Is everyone in the private sector paid exactly what they are worth?  And how does that idea fit with financial management pay? Does Elizabeth Warren think he's right?  

                    Think, this is a troll.  

                    •  It's you who's say he all those things he (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      buddabelly, ladybug53

                      wants us to think, not him. You're assessment of him as a troll is not based on what he wrote but on extrapolations.

                      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                      by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:19:33 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  no it isn't (0+ / 0-)

                        read it again!!!

                        •  I did. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          buddabelly

                          I stand by what I said, unless you can point to something specific he said which equates to what you're attributing to him.

                          Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                          by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:23:25 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  start with the title (0+ / 0-)

                            overpaid?  What does that mean?  He won't tell us exactly what he does. Why even mention the military if he's talking about jobs that are overpaid? But since it's the military, why not mention what you give up in joining the military?  He talks about it as if it can be compared to a civilian job, which is why I think he isn't in the military at all.  

                            the title would be enough for Elizabeth Warren.  His case is that the military pays people more than they are worth?  And if that's his case, who pays what people are worth?  Get it yet?  

                          •  I think the title is part of the problem. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            buddabelly

                            It seems to me that the reaction to that is coloring how people read the diary, which is fair, but the contents of the diary don't add anything beyond that to support that reaction, in my view. I think he describes why he considers himself overpaid, although not in specific detail. I don't expect people to out themselves here in order to be not considered trollish. It seems that it's what's not in the diary that's bother you and others more than what's in it.

                            Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:37:43 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  you're saying (0+ / 0-)

                            he doesn't say what he does? And he doesn't say what he gave up? And he doesn't say that others in his classification might be overpaid or underpaid, depending on what they do?  

                            If he says no more than that, and you want him to not be making a point about the other overpaid military people, or about how the private sector pays what people are worth and the government should stay out of it since they don't know, given how they overpay in the military, they why is he saying it at all?

                            If it only applies to him and he won't tell us what he does, why waste our time?  

                            But, if he's making a logical argument about how government can't tell what people are worth because they pay too much, then it goes to the Koch Brothers, which is where is likely started.  that's the no minimum wage argument, that the government throws money at people but if they were a private entity and had to make a profit, they'd pay what people are worth and no more.

                            Sorry, that is their talking point.

                          •  I think the point he is making (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            buddabelly

                            is that not all people in the military are compensated poorly, and that some like him are fairly well off, and cutting their compensation would not cause major hardship. The same point could be made in many cases in the private sector as well, but that's not what's being discussed by Secretary Hagel and others.

                            Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:58:39 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh, Elizabeth would agree with that? (0+ / 0-)

                            He doesn't need that much, whatever anyone is worth? If that's his point why did he have to say he was overpaid, why not just say he could live on less?  Why go through his pay scale and all his benefits, as if it's unnecessary and impractial largesse?  What was his point in saying all that?  That's even weirder?  

                          •  Isn't Chuck Hagel proposing (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            buddabelly

                            cutting back on military compensation? Seems that some are opposed to that, and the point the diarist is making is that for senior officers, it might not be a big hardship. I don't see what Senator Warren has to do with this, in particular, but maybe I missed something.

                            Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:50:43 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  you are correct imo, there's a couple people who (0+ / 0-)

                            seem to have read a different diary and both have crossed the line over it...

                            IMO both deserve sanctioned, a time out would be fine with me..

                            Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
                            I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
                            Emiliano Zapata

                            by buddabelly on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:08:11 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

    •  Numbers right (0+ / 0-)

      I'm ex-AF Vietnam-era Officer (O-3) and Pilot. But my Magna Cum Laude son is an E-6 and he makes about what you calculate - ~50k. But he spent 3 years in training at less than half that pay to become a Special Forces Green Beret Combat Medic, already been to Afganistan for a year, and the 50k includes Jump Pay, Combat Pay, Housing allowance, stuff like that. He loves what he does, and didn't want to be an Officer because Officers don't get to be Medics and shoot machine guns.

      He could easily have gone to OCS but consciously didn't. He's single and living pretty well, but his girlfriend(s) don't like it that every so often he ups and gets deployed for 6 months to a year, so every relationship is temporary. It's why he hasn't married yet and he's nearly 30. But he likes the adrenalin and the feeling of doing something difficult and useful. But I hope he doesn't go back to Afganistan again, and he hopes he will.

      Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

      by blindcynic on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:43:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I gather Lent started early, it's Friday, (4+ / 0-)

    and we're having red herring for dinner.

    the diarist made a great argument that he or she is overpaid; for the purpose, as stated in the first sentence, of better informing the discussion of military compensation.

    if you can't stick to the topic without personal attacks, you risk looking like that guy who lives under the bridge waiting for mutton.

    "we're flying high on affluenza, mounting severed servants heads on the credenza" -Sanctuary City of the Rich

    by Xavior Breff on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:15:16 PM PST

  •  In other words, a 1%-er speaks out. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anna shane

    Forgetting that 99% of all service members make less money. Often far less.

    And your math is flawed. $240 food allowance is eight bucks a day, not eighteen.

    And FWIW, when I enlisted in 1973, I was paid $288 a month as a buck private. In my 3rd and final year in the Army, I made $5,100 as an E-4 (Specialist 4th class).

    I doubled my earnings my first year in a civilian job.

    I don't know what your agenda is here, but stating that the 1% is overpaid is like stating that Geico saves you 15% in 15 minutes. Everybody knows that.

    If you don't watch the news, you're uninformed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

    by edg on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:32:01 PM PST

    •  no (0+ / 0-)

      this is a person well-paid by a one percenter, It's about the minimum wage and the overpayment of workers. And about over-compensation, how dare soldiers far from home get to shop at discount through bulk purchasing? How dare their dependents get to shop at discount too.  How dare the bad government undermine private scalpers, I mean enterprisers, undercut inflated prices by buying in bulk and selling at no profit to soldiers and their families? Shouldn't that be means tested, shouldn't only destitute soldiers get to buy at bulk discount no profit prices and be publicly shamed?  

      this is a creep diary.

  •  View from bridge of titanic fine... (0+ / 0-)

    This is why everything be snark. This why I vote socialist or green. This is view from Dem headquarters. Everything fine; just stay the course. What Dem with eyes open say that, huh!?! No Dem, that R(ich).

    Yes, I'm the real Lia Whirlwind. Do you hear anybody else screaming?

    by Lia Whirlwind on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:35:47 PM PST

  •  As an O-6 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Embassy, AaronInSanDiego, B52D

    It sort of pisses me off when someone says.."Thank you for your service"..Thank the E-3's..I was doing a job, and a well paid one..

    Do something...marinedefenders.com

    by profewalt on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:16:37 PM PST

    •  does it (0+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:
      wesmorgan1

      how awful for you. to not be first asked if you'd been in harms way before someone mistakes you for putting your life on the line and expresses appreciation in the only way they know how.  I hope you yell at them so they don't mistakenly thank some other 0-6.  

    •  I know what you mean... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      profewalt

      I served during peacetime. I don't advertise the fact that I'm a veteran; I have no service flags, no stickers on my cars, no special license plates, no ball caps. I did what I felt was my duty, as others have done throughout our nation's history, and that's that.

      Nonetheless, I'm routinely "thanked for my service" whenever someone learns that I'm a veteran. That never seemed to matter until the last 10 years or so. I don't recall anyone ever thanking my father (a career soldier - enlisted in WWII, ROTC on GI Bill, Korea, Vietnam) in that fashion.

      Don't thank me, especially now that it has become a reflexive, almost empty phrase in many contexts - thank the ones who put their lives on the line. I'm in that "was ready to go, but never had to" category.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 08:07:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another perspectie is in order. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, ER Doc, anna shane

    I served in the USN in the 1980's and 1990's. I was under paid by ridiculous amounts. At no point in my 6 years could I have had been married and not qualified for food stamps. At no point did I make enough to both be able afford to be able rent an apartment and make a car payment.

    No command I served at would authorize junior enlisted to receive separate rations and separate housing, those tax free extra incomes the op discussed, so I lived in base housing or on ship for my entire enlistment.

    And to add insult to injury the GI bill at the time was the Montgomery GI Bill which took $100 a month out of my income, which was less than $800 month to start with. For that I got a $300 check every month every month while I was in school for 3 years which was just enough to let me live on ramen and run up well over $100k in loans.

  •  I think this is a complicated subject. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, buddabelly, ladybug53

    Especially judging by the feedback already given-- though I didn't read all 117 comments, I think I read enough to get a feeling for what has already been said (and I hope that this comment adds something).

    I served as an infantryman in the Army from 2003-2007. I was twice deployed to Iraq.  I often see comments made both ways on this topic -- military men are overpaid... no no they're underpaid.  I think it is more complex than that.

    As a single, enlisted soldier I felt I was paid well. My final year in the Army I cleared about $36,000 (including BAH/BAS).  Considering as a single soldier I lived in the barracks (I was promoted to SGT in Iraq, and got out shortly after my return so I never lived off-post) that was amazing money.  The soldiers that lived in the barracks lived really well mostly, unless they purchased too many big ticket items.  

    I think the discrepancy comes when you compare married lower enlisted and single lower enlisted.  I'm not sure you can have an overarching discussion about military pay without recognizing the pay differential between single and married soldiers as well as officer vs enlisted pay.

    Grr.. dinner interrupted my thoughts so I'm not sure how coherent this was (but food was great!).

    "I try to keep an open mind, but not so open my brains fall out." ~ Judge Harry Stone

    by chris m on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:58:50 PM PST

  •  Way to drag wages down. The problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, ladybug53

    isn't that officers are paid too much, but that enlisted ranks are paid too little.

    In this country we have a small percentage of people who are vastly overcompensated, but the only thing you'll hear from them is that their taxes are too high.

    Wages and salaries have lagged behind inflation for at least 30 years now. Rather than disparage your own compensation, perhaps the discussion could be on raising wages and salaries across the board.

    I told my husband, a retired Army officer, about your diary and his comment was, "He must be Air Force."

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:03:37 PM PST

  •  Well ....thank you for your service..too bad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tommyfocus2003, anna shane

    veterans disabled and otherwise are NOT overcomepensated but we are talking about a different budget aren't we?   I do so hope since you feel this way you help a troop pay for food in your charity and help disabled veterans personally and not just throw just change to an organization.   I don't begrudge your pay but it is inequality by your own standards and needs to be fixed.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:25:16 PM PST

    •  this guy has an agenda (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vetwife

      sadly he's sucked people into to it.  The military pay scale is the fairest because it's equal within grades and years of service. there are signing bonuses, and special duty pay, but not by whim.   I can't see anyone being overpaid in this system.  You give up a lot, just not being able to live where you want to or quit if you feel like it. And getting trained for tasks that usually don't have a civilian counterpart.

      Being in the military means you're serving your country. It isn't a civilian job, there is no comparison. And civilian jobs aren't paid fairly.  That's why we need a minimum wage and why trade unions built the middle class.

  •  Almost everyone I know in the military (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego

    is compensated for perhaps becoming dead.  Look at what happened on the relatively safe USS Reagan in Japan.  I like fair compensation for the military, and I do believe officer pensions could be reformed to not quadruple enlisted pensions.  But the military generally spend their money and help the economy.  At this rate, I just want the government to stimulate the economy one way or another.  Frighteningly, Hagel is even talking draconian cuts to the one part of government that Repubs fund.  Just in time for Ukraine too.  Yay.

    •  they need to retain trained officers (0+ / 0-)

      who also give up a lot.  Women are paid the same as men for the same rank. Black people are paid the same as white people.  It's a fair system, you know when you sign up what it's going to be, and if someone thinks you're getting too good a deal, why didn't they enlist.

  •  Phone Colonel (0+ / 0-)

    Must be nice to make more for BAQ than an E-5 brings home.

  •  An excellent diary post (0+ / 0-)

    ...which makes a lot of good points, but I still believe procurement is the real gorilla in the room when it comes to military waste.  

    Incidentally, I come from a military family and we lived very well.  The salary-for-life retirement deal is nothing to scoff at either.

  •  Officers are overpaid except maybe in the Navy (3+ / 0-)

    Enlisted men struggle in all branches, but in the Navy, you are working unbelievably long hours even during shore leave and under at least moderate danger constantly at sea.

    When I was in at sea, we worked a minimum (MINIMUM!) of 12 hours per day, seven days a week.

    In port we still worked about 60 hours per week, with each sixth day a full 24 hour work load.

    When I was in Nam, in Jan '73, we essentially worked a full month with practically no sleep and IIRC, a whooping $60 combat pay often just off shore at night attacking targets in North Vietnam.

    I did use a full 48 months of GI bill, so that helped, but still the pay was real crummy. At least I didn't have any kids so I didn't have to collect food stamps like a lot of my shipmates.

    O-5 and above get paid about right for these kinds of hours, I guess, but can you imagine the stress of being the Captain of a ship?

    Oh yeah, and I hated every single officer's guts. REALLY hated the bastards, every single one of them. The treated us EMs like crap.

  •  One thing about the evolving military... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego

    As the enlisted force has become increasingly educated, more skilled, and more profession-oriented, the enlisted force is encroaching on jobs once held by officers.  In a typical military unit, most of the daily management is done by senior NCO's and most of the technical expertise resides in the E-5 thru E-7 NCO grades (with the E-7 being a truly weird blend of technical expert and "baby" senior NCO).

    This puts the officer corps into kind of a pickle:  Excepting pilots, engineers, medical staff, and legal personnel, officers are becoming less important.  We still need commanders and senior officers to fill executive positions, but getting from O-1 lieutenant to O-6 "bird" colonel is a two-decade journey through various billets that range from "supervising" senior NCO's who have the same education and tenfold the experience, to "exec" positions that amount to the commander's office manager.  That's a whole lot of make-work designed to prepare people for command.

    I imagine it feels kind of lousy to be halfway through that system--not quite ready for command, but not really necessary to daily operations.

    I'm not sure where this goes in the future.  Do we simply go to an all-enlisted force that streamlines career paths?

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:45:38 PM PST

    •  Nice thought but no (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, DaveinBremerton

      In fact the jobs you mentioned - pilots, medical and legal have no business being officers.  It takes no leadership to fly a plane.  It takes no leadership to be a doctor or a lawyer.  We commission them simply to pay them better and exempt them from labor type jobs.  We would be better served making them Warrant officers (for the labor part) and giving them special pay (for the pay part).

      Its not about the education but all about the experience.  I have an E-7 who works for me who has a PhD.  Doesn't mean he can do my job.  Why?  Because he doenst have the experience.  There is a difference between experience and time in service.  I have been in for 26 years and yet I turned to my NCO with 10 years almost daily in Afghanistan.  Why?  Because he was an Artillery FDC NCO and I knew nothing about FDC operations.  It wasn't my deal.  On the other hand he was no help when it came to doing what I do.  THats not a good or bad thing, just a thing.  Thats why we have TEAMS.  We all bring different skills and background and fill different roles.  

      You have a very narrow view of what officers do which I suspect comes from being around very narrow officers like the one who posted this diary.  

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:17:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Leadership is just training and experience (0+ / 0-)

        Executives become executives by virtue of training and experience, nothing more.  Whether the holder of that experience wears chevrons or shoulder boards is utterly irrelevant.

        "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

        by DaveinBremerton on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 04:41:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Just some observations: (4+ / 0-)

    I was in the Navy, so won't pretend to meld other services' promotion statistics. But yours are wildly misleading, regardless of service.  This statement is particularly egregious:

    So while there's an element of competition in all elements of one's military career, this is not by any means a cut-throat affair. Successfully being promoted to O-5 is largely a matter of being at least average, and sticking around.
    To get to consideration for O-6, I had to pass through the gates for O2, O3, O4, and O5. The mists of time obscure my percentages, but this shows 2013's, which for a naval line officer (i.e. eligible for command at sea) were 95% to O2, 90% to O3, 80% to O3, 70% to O4, 70% to O5, an 50% to O6. That means out of 100 Ensigns, by the O6 promotion point, only 17 of them stand a statistical chance of making O6. You can take my word for it: those 17 folk aren't "average".

    I will not let this statement pass unchallenged, either:

    Being an O-5 is, in today's military, middle management. Some of us have commands, but in general you serve more often in staff functions. That's work that needs doing too, and it can be very fulfilling, but let's be clear - most O-5s are not leading troops at the front. This is quite rare.
    If you don't think the decisions and work ethic of staff officers at combatant commands worldwide are critical, I damn sure hope you aren't one.

    To the extent I paid attention to it one way or another over 26+ years, I expect I was both under- and over-paid , depending on my situation.  But the benchmarks sure as hell weren't the ones you suggest.

    As I remind any who think they are overpaid/under taxed, The US Treasury accepts personal checks 24/7.

    Lastly, it's faintly amusing you don't want to reveal your branch of service. I'd wager every enlisted troop or officer who works with or around you is fully cognizant of your political outlook.

     

  •  Nice work…if you can get it (0+ / 0-)

    I too am an O5 and I don't feel over paid.

    First off, I have been offered much more to do much less than I am currently doing.  And by much more I mean over $300K with benefits.  I don't know what you do but my background is in high demand.  If you can't make more that you do in the military that speaks to you, not the rest of us.

    Secondly, as has already been pointed out that 83% selection number is deceiving.  You first have to survive all the cuts preceding it.  And self selected attrition is far greater than up or out attrition.  I know a lot of my peers choose to self select out because they knew they were going to be told "thanks for your service but we no longer require it" and wanted to leave on their own terms and own time.  Of the 17 people I was commissioned with three made it to O5.  One of my close friends was an aide to a GO, a branch manager, CLS select and STILL didn't make the cut off for War College.  No chance he makes O6 despite being wildly successful.  I don't know a single O5 who is "average" and everyone I know could be making far more in private business.

    Third while it is true that I am not out leading a squad on a patrol that is not the role of O5s.  Besides the physical factors the Army (in my case) has invested way too much in me to have me doing a job that can be done by a junior Sergeant.  On the other hand that junior Sergeant is not equipped to make decisions on the 2015 GFMAP or the 2016 Allocated and Assigned forces.  Or deciding in the seconds after a missile launch somewhere win the world if it is a threat to North America or not.  And don't forget that that a major factor in getting promoted is having done those hard/dangerous jobs.  I got to where i am by spending 2003 driving around Baghdad alone in a Land Cruiser trying to look unimportant.  I spent 07 and 08 doing the same in Riyadh and spent2010/11 advising Afghan battalions with 5 guys when "green on blue" was transitioning from rare to almost daily.  Maybe your career is filled with desk jobs and boring commutes but don't project that on the rest of us.  Oh and when the Army screwed up my dwell time and thought I hadn't deployed for 5 years they tried to put me on orders as an advisor…..in Africa….alone….just my white ass in a very unstable area.  I was going being sent BECAUSE I was an O5 not despite it.  I fixed my dwell but guess what, next year I will have gone a whopping 3 years without deploying and I will be top of the list.

    Our benefits are hardly "lavish" and there is nothing underhanded about them.  They are part of a total compensation package.  If you don't understand that you ARE paying into your retirement and you ARE paying for Tricare then I am sorry for you and your education background.  Housing allowance is also part of that total compensation package.  If we didn't have housing allowances our base pay would have to be higher.  Same with substance.  In fact if you really understood total compensation you would see that our housing allowances and food allowances actually screw us over on retirement day since none of that counts as "pay" when retirement is figured.  My retirement would be $1750 a month higher if my housing and food allowances were part of my base pay instead of special allowances.  And our retirement is unique in that you are fully vested at 20 but get nada for 19.  If you decided to punch early you get nothing at all.  If you get non selected before hitting sanctuary you get nothing at all.  I know you know that and find it telling that you failed to mention it.  Agenda much?  Oh and I don't know how you missed the memo that retirement now goes to 100% at 40.  Its only been that way for about 10 years.

    Sounds like you need to retire officially instead of being ROAD.

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:07:25 PM PST

  •  Colonel, I'm a retired E-8, retired in the spring (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, AaronInSanDiego

    of 1967.  My first military pay was $21 bucks in cash.  I don't think you are over paid at all.  Even though you may currently be staff, at any moment in time you can be ordered off to Bumfuck Solovola, handed a weapon and told to "Take That hill, and hold it!"  You know it's suicide but you have no alternative.  Being in constant jeopardy for years at a time is worth what ever they pay you.        

  •  I made it to 0-3 before my disgust with rampant (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Militarytracy, AaronInSanDiego

    waste, Christian extremism and devotion to Rush Limbaugh (his was the only political commentary on Armed Forces Radio, and TV for a short time) caused me to leave the USAF as soon as my commitment was fulfilled.

    The schism between officer and enlisted ranks always bothered me. A young Airman was subject to disciplinary action and fines if he bounced a $10 check anywhere in town or on base. I however, had direct deposit of over $3000 per month (in the early '90s) so my bank account had automatic overdraft protection.

    Many enlisted families were on food stamps as well.

    Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods for unlimited people on a planet with finite resources. Synonyms: trickle-down; voodoo economics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve.

    by FrY10cK on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 04:19:02 AM PST

  •  I agree, officers are overpaid... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Militarytracy

    it's the E-3's that are collecting food stamps to support their families.  

    If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.

    by kharma on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 05:02:04 AM PST

  •  Your honesty if refreshing. (0+ / 0-)

    I am very familiar with military pay and benefits. The fact of the matter is we're very good to our military personnel. In some ways, we're so good to them it has become way too costly and very unfair to the tax payer. We need serious reform in pay and benefits for military personnel. I don't mean, as the right wingers will mindlessly portray it, as stripping retirements from injured vets, but a practical look at what it costs the tax payers and whether it's really fair to give people, many retiring at only 38 yrs old, free healthcare and retirement pay (with COLAs) for the next, say, 40 years of their and their spouse's life. We need to have a grown up conversation about it. Wounded warriors should be taken care of for life. I think we agree on that, but the vast majority of military personnel have not been wounded and have basically served in government jobs their whole career. We're talking truck drivers, mechanics, logistics, clerks, the military band, etc, etc,. And ALL of these military people get the same full military retirement package. It's simply not right or sustainable.

    So what do I recommend. Well the first thing is no retired military person should be able to collect any retirement benefits or pay until their either 50 years old or have served 25 years of continuous service. Secondly, all retired military personnel should pay 29% (same as fed retirees) of their healthcare premium each month. These two changes alone would help put the military budget back on track.

    I should add, we need to take a serious look at BAQ/VHA. This is basic allowance for housing that ALL military personnel get if they live off base. As Bookends points out he/she gets over $3,000 of TAX FREE money per month to pay for housing ON TOP of his or her base pay. Consider this. If Bookends lives in that tax payer subsidized home for, say, 10 years and then sells that house for about half a million in profit, the tax payer, who paid for that house, gets nothing. The military retiree walks away with a pension for life, basically free healthcare for life and all the profit from the sell of that tax payer subsidized home.

    The fact of the matter is the military industrial complex has really racked up a nice deal for military retirees. We need serious reform. Military personnel should have a retirement package with a pension and healthcare. I think that's fair. But the current set of benefits needs to be reformed. We need to have benefit adjustments and cuts in some practical ways to bring down the costs and make the burden on tax payers much more fair.            

    "The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world." - Reinhold Niebuhr

    by Sam Weller on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 05:12:42 AM PST

    •  We can't figure out where anyone gets (0+ / 0-)

      $3,000 a month BAH for this paygrade.  We seriously can't.  BAH is based on where the soldier is having to find housing though so perhaps this is BAH for DC or Hawaii.  This persons supposed BAH is between double and triple what peers can expect to receive in most areas of the country.

      •  Well yes... (0+ / 0-)

        This is VHA for Northern Virginia, the DC area. But BAQ/VHA is pretty good for officers especially. You can check the rates for other areas like San Diego and Norfolk, and you'll still see a nice monthly tax free payment for housing. We can't act like we don't do a lot for our military personnel. We do. Especially the officers. Reforming the benefits DOES NOT mean we're any less appreciative. That's exactly what vested interests will say. No. We need to reform these programs because, just like well meaning welfare programs, we've become way way to generous without any consideration for the long term costs. Again, the vast majority of military personnel are not combat troops and are not serving in frontline combat roles but get the same level of benefits of those who do.

        Military spending has gotten way out of control because we're not saying "NO" to more benefits. It's so easy to say yes in this situation but we need to say NO to the military more often. The right uses global crisis and any other situation to justify massive defense spending and along with that has come more and more military benefits. Well now the bill is due. Time to reverse some of this...at least for future military personnel at a minimum.

        "The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world." - Reinhold Niebuhr

        by Sam Weller on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 07:28:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think you are so whack about (0+ / 0-)

          This it is pathetic.  BAH is given to active duty because you (the taxpayer) cannot afford to build and maintain on post or base housing for every soldier you will need during times of combat.  There are no vacant houses on post where I am, there is a waiting list to get on.  For those who can't wait, you get BAH to pay for housing off post.

          Do you even know what you are talking about here?

          •  Not what I'm saying. (0+ / 0-)

            To be clear. I think BAH is exactly what we should be doing. If we can't house you on post then we should assist with housing somewhere else. But that doesn't mean how much is paid out or how the program is administered is ideal or, in some cases, fair to the tax payer. There are many other military programs that could also stand some serious scrutiny. The bottom line is spending on pay and benefits is consuming roughly 50% of all military spending. That's simply not sustainable. Tough decision need to be made about active duty benefits and veterans benefits. If not, it's only a matter of time before a tough decision is forced on us. I'm skeptical about the will of Congress but this is something that has got to be addressed one way or the other. We can make some minor changes to active duty and veterans benefits now and bigger changes to people joining the service down the road, or we can wait until the system collapses and we're forced to cut hard for all. Let's make the tough decisions now and put the Pentagon back on better fiscal footing.

            I might also add it would be really good for our long term fiscal health if we didn't get into needless wars.  

            "The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world." - Reinhold Niebuhr

            by Sam Weller on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 01:17:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  First of all (0+ / 0-)

              We are in the middle of a downsize and I suspect you know this but you pretend some sort of faux emergency and act as if we are staying 2 wars manpower strong.  In truth the military has been in downsize now for about a year and the squeeze driving people out is getting tighter and tighter.

              And second:  Your link with its numbers is misleading and even in error, but your DKos profile claims you are a policy wonk so I suspect you know that too.

              http://www.militarytimes.com/...

              Why are you shopping around falsehoods under the profile of policy wonk?

              •  I suggest you "shop around" for better research... (0+ / 0-)

                I think you need to do some serious research on military spending. We have a ways to go to get the Pentagon budget in order. Secondly, if you know more than CBS and Secretary Hagel about the numbers please enlighten us. Third, I don't suspect you can be convinced but let's just go to the gold standard for budget research, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and see what their research says about the costs of military compensation. Hint: it's not favorable.

                Costs of Military Pay and Benefits in the Defense Budget

                "The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world." - Reinhold Niebuhr

                by Sam Weller on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 03:59:55 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  There is a link to much much more (0+ / 0-)

                  Accuracy in my comment above.  I suggest you become more knowledgeable about what is really bloating the Pentagon budget, because it isn't paying people a decent wage that is doing it.

                  Read my link, and then get back to me about where the Pentagon budget needs cut.

                  I never ever said that the Pentagon budget didn't need to be taken in hand, but it isn't soldier pay and retirement and healthcare that is breaking the bank!

                •  Wow Sam (0+ / 0-)

                  And what an absurd thing to base your argument on, this link singling out compensation and not looking at any of the other costs in the same time period.  Imagine that Sam, compensation to soldiers rose faster than the rate of inflation while they were being wounded like flies in combat zones and your military had to be stop-lossed or you wouldn't even have had enough warm bodies to shove into the meat grinder.

                  How did you fancy you would retain your soldiers, and you are still in Afghanistan, you are still at war my friend?  You have no clue what sort of stress it places on a family either having a parent in a war zone.  I think you are a clueless shameful "WONK".

                  You are also someone about to meet the reality of retention, particularly in the wake of a new threat.  People just aren't willing to train and place their lives in danger for Walmart wages Sam.

                  And what else in the Pentagon budget during the WOT rose in cost faster than the rate of inflation Sam?  EVERYTHING DID!  

                  •  You simply aren't going to accept reality. (0+ / 0-)

                    First there is the reality of what's happening with military pay and benefits. It is what it is. Obama: Growth of Military Pay and Benefits Cannot Be Sustained

                    Second, you make the same across the board generalizations that people make that just will not accept the tough realities. Soldiers injured in combat are taken care of. And they should be! But the overwhelming vast majority of military personnel are not front line soldiers and have never seen a rock thrown in anger. As you well know, for every one soldier in the field there is probably 5 or more military personnel in support. BUT those support personnel, the clerks, the drivers, mechanics, members of the military band! and vast numbers of other support people get the same benefits and retirements as the riflemen on the front line. You can't admit it but we can change the retirement system to be more cost effective. Should a member of the Army band, for example, get a 20 year retirement with full healthcare from age 38 on?? Should mechanics, clerks, computer specialists, etc, etc?? The point is we have one system and it has become bloated. Certainly we should take care of those who have been truly injured...and we do. My point isn't that we need to remove the retirement system entirely but we need to have an adult conversation about military benefits. And the fact of the matter is military pay and benefits are overwhelming the budget and need to be trimmed back.

                    Anyway, I'm done discussing this with you. The budgetary realities involving the military are what they are. We need to reform the system, which will require military personnel getting less and paying a little more for their healthcare in retirement. Or, as I suspect, we'll do nothing and we'll face a fiscal crisis and we'll make much bigger cuts to military benefits because we couldn't make the smaller ones now. I admire and respect military personnel for their service. But that doesn't mean we can ignore realities or that we can just say the sky is the limit for ALL military personnel when our fiscal situation simply will not allow it. Like it or not military pensions and healthcare (for retirees) are an entitlement. And like ALL entitlements they need to be reformed. Again, I would suggest small reforms for the current group of retirees and active duty people and bigger reforms for future active duty and retirees.  

                    I wish you luck with your career. Fare well.

                    "The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world." - Reinhold Niebuhr

                    by Sam Weller on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 05:32:46 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Meet the military welfare queen (0+ / 0-)

    Are you arguing that O's make too much and E's get screwed?  We in this household might allow for that discussion, but I gotta tell you something.  I know a few O's who give every day their all, they go home dog tired. They care about and work for their people to the nth degree. Some of them deserve their pay even if you don't.  You do tend to get what you get though in O's and there are plenty that should have been kicked to the curb ages ago like every other job field.  I would prefer to just give E's a raise.

    My spouse is in the middle of an exercise in Korea and running on precious little sleep, in what is my morning and his going to bed I read him this diary...and well, he says you are shameful.  You are supposed to perform every day as if you are in combat.  You are paid for combat not garrison, and when and if you do go into combat you realize that if you ever thought garrison pay was too heavy they can never pay you enough for combat....and somehow it is hopefully a wash.  You are supposed to go to bed dog tired every day though soldier in earning that pay.  Showing up here admitting that you game the system, that's somehow honorable at DKos?

    We can't figure out how you get so much for housing.  And posters here need to realize that where ever you are it is  temp in the military. I do know people who do own houses, but you have to leave them, you rent them out and they get torn up, it is often one hell of a mess trying to keep what you have a mortgage on in good working order when you are globe trotting.  We guess you get this enormous over double what everyone else gets housing allowance because you are in DC and it is so expensive there.  After that we guess you aren't being retained in the military, and now you hope to work for Peter G Peterson and this write up making it on the rec list at DKos is part of your slacker resume :)

    •  It's easy to verify the figure the diarist cites (0+ / 0-)

      If you look here, there's a BAH calculator. I typed in the zip code for the Pentagon, 20301, O-5 for rank, and it came up with $3,102 per month. He said he was an O-5 in northern Virginia, so, yep, he posted the correct figure.

      •  Fine, this person is at the Pentagon (0+ / 0-)

        That's a damn shame too for someone admittedly gaming the system to be posted there, but this soldier receives that amount of BAH because that is what housing in the area being served in costs.  It is to pay for temp housing, you can buy a house if you want...sure, but you will leave it behind if you stay in service.  When you leave service, you no longer receive BAH also.  So if you buy a $600,000 home, the government isn't going to pay that mortgage for you DUH!

        This diarist throws out a grand figure without explaining why it is that grand and without letting anyone know that when they are no longer active duty the BAH is gone.  It is only to pay for temp housing when there isn't any housing available on base or post.

  •  Compare to the post office (0+ / 0-)

    which people seem to think is a career that deserves scorn and smaller pensions. The carriers who bring the mail to my house cannot finish this route within the allotted time each day, and are not allowed to receive overtime pay, so some days we just don't get mail.

    I suspect the bias is based on the political leanings of the people who receive the military compensation, and the financials interests of those who want a strong military-industrial complex.

    "When you give back all your ill-gotten gains, you're a reformed crook. When you keep most of the loot and only give back a small part of it, you're a philanthropist." - Alfred E. Newman

    by Abstract668 on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 12:41:11 PM PST

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