NDAA

MOAA – Defense Bills: House and Senate Versions Compared

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Here’s an article that compares the House and Senate versions of the NDAA 20. Here are the two bullets most readers would care about:

  • A pay raise win. Summaries from leaders of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees pledge that their final legislation will include a 3.1% military pay raise, which would align with the administration’s FY 2020 budget request and with MOAA efforts to sustain pay comparability with the private sector. While nothing’s settled until passage, this appears to be one of few issues that won’t be affected by ongoing debate – a key House member said as much at a recent news event.
  • Halfway on health care? While House Armed Services Committee (HASC) members included language that would put a stop to a proposal to cut up to 18,000 medical billets, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) has not. House committee members shared MOAA’s concerns about the potential consequences of cutting roughly 20 percent of the military’s medical force. They included language requiring DoD to study the issue further and report back to Congress.

What the HASC Version of NDAA 20 Says About Medical Billet Cuts

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Here is a summary of the House Armed Service Committee’s (HASC’s) version of the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bullet point about medical billets says:

– Prohibits the Secretary of Defense and the Secretaries of the military departments from realigning or reducing military medical end strength until analyses are conducted on potential manpower realignments and the availability of health care services in the local area.

Transformation Underway Across the Military Health System

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This is a really good article by the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs that summarizes all the changes we are experiencing. If you feel like you could benefit from a good summary of what is going on, read this article:

Transformation Underway Across the Military Health System

Stripes.com Article – Military Pay Raise, 15,000 New Troops, Promotion Reforms: 5 Key Aspects of the 2019 Defense Budget

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Here’s a link to the article, and here’s the most relevant sections for us:

With a 2.6 percent pay raise in place, which is slated to go into effect Jan. 1, servicemembers will see their wages increase at its highest level in nine years.

Servicemembers should see the increases in their first paychecks of the new year on Jan. 15, 2019.

“It clearly signals that Congress wants military pay to be competitive,” said Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The pay increases still aren’t as high as ones in 2008, 2009 and 2010, when servicemembers saw hikes of 3.4 percent or more. Also, servicemembers’ pay raises will compete against rises in inflation. On Friday, the Department of Labor reported the cost of living rose 2.9 percent for the year ending in June 2018.

“Always tough to get it right, because we will not know the inflation rate for calendar year 2019 until January 2020,” said Andrew Sherbo, a University of Denver finance professor who has tracked government and defense budget issues.

Under the plan, an E-5 with 8 years of service could see their monthly basic pay rise $80.81 a month from $3,126.16 in 2018 to $3,206.97 in 2019, or an annual gain of $969.72, Sherbo estimated.

The legislation also directs benefit improvements and personnel reforms. For example, it enhances reforms of the Military Health System and installs the most widespread changes to the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act since it was enacted in 1980.

DOPMA, which standardized military promotions across the armed forces, will now let the services use civilian experience to establish new ranks for entering servicemembers, let certain officers promote faster and the expectation of retirement if a servicemember fails to promote twice could be removed.

In addition, servicemembers could also see higher per diem reimbursements in cases where they travel more than 30 days under the NDAA’s changes.

Officer Promotions and the NDAA 19

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Physicians are always interested in promotions, and the proposed NDAA 19 makes a number of changes to officer promotions. If you want the scoop, first I’d read this article from Military Times:

Congress is Giving the Officer Promotion System a Massive Overhaul

In addition, here are the relevant changes I pulled out of an article from the DHA Early Bird a few days ago:

  • Officers will continue to be considered for promotion as part of the same year group in which they were promoted to their current rank.
  • Congress is required to annually authorize the number of officers allowed to serve in the ranks of O­4 through O­6 across all the services.
  • It repeals a requirement that candidates for regular commissions not be older than 42, or at least have enough service years to complete 20 years by age 62.
  • ­It enhances the services’ authority to award constructive service credit for special private sector training or experience to allow active or reserve officer appointments up to the rank of O6 in critically ­needed fields.
  • Authorizing each service to award temporary promotions to the ranks O­3 through O­6 for specified positions. Only Navy has such authority today so this change would standardize it across all branches.
  • Authorizing promotion boards to recommend that “officers of particular merit” be placed higher on promotion lists than peers.
  • Allowing officers, when deemed in the best interest of the service, to have their names removed from consideration by a selection board for promotion to the next higher grade, and authorizing officers in certain military specialties to remain on active duty until reaching 40 years active service.
  • Authorizing use of an alternative promotion processes for officers in certain secretary­ designated competitive categories, to include a term­ based continuation process when certain officers are not selected for promotion. This would selectively end the traditional up ­or ­out requirement for officer management.

The devil’s in the details, and the Military Times article states that the changes are not mandatory for the services, so we’ll have to see how it all plays out over the next few years.