Budget Proposal Includes 3 Percent Pay Raise, Quality-of-Life Enhancements

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2007 - President Bush's defense budget request for fiscal 2008 includes a 3 percent military pay raise as well as increases for housing, health care and other quality-of-life benefits and programs.

Bush's proposed budget, submitted to Congress this morning, includes $137 billion in pay, benefits and health care for 2.1 million active- and reserve-component troops and their families.

That includes $2.1 billion more than this year for military pay, continuing a trend that has boosted military pay an average of 32 percent since 2001. If Congress approves the request, the typical E-6 sergeant or petty officer would see a $1,099 pay increase, and the average O-3 captain or Navy lieutenant, a $1,657 hike in fiscal 2008.

The request also includes $15 billion for the basic allowance for housing, up 4.2 percent over the fiscal 2007 figure, with a continued goal of ensuring no out-of-pocket housing costs for servicemembers.

An additional $4.3 billion is earmarked for basic allowance for subsistence.

Also included in the budget request is $2.4 billion for recruiting bonuses and retention, which officials say is critical to sustaining the all-volunteer force.

The proposed budget provides $38.7 billion for health care for 9.2 million military members and their families. Officials said this funding level is important to sustain one of the world's best health-care programs and to ensure that Tricare remains fiscally sound.

Family housing will receive $2.9 billion under the proposed budget to support an ongoing privatization trend. This will pay to privatize 2,870 additional family housing units, bringing the total to 194,000 by the end of fiscal 2008, officials said.

The budget request also includes $10 billion to maintain training centers and base infrastructure, an increase of $1.9 billion over this year's budget, and $8.2 billion to implement Base Realignment and Closure plans. These plans, recommended by the 2005 BRAC Commission and approved by Congress, include 25 base closures and 24 major realignments.

Officials said the proposed budget will ensure the finest training, equipment and force protection for those who serve in harm's way while continuing the department's commitment to provide a high quality of life for servicemembers and their families.

The proposed budget, officials said, reaffirms the nation's top military priorities: to prevail in the global war on terror; increase combat capability; improve force readiness; development future combat capabilities and improve quality of life for military members and their families.

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