San Diego Union-Tribune

September 29, 2001

'99 law on pay could be costly in terror war


WASHINGTON -- Just as the armed services are deploying thousands of
personnel on unscheduled missions to wage the war on terrorism, they are
confronting a congressionally mandated pay provision that could cost them
millions of dollars.

The provision, enacted in 1999, requires the services to pay an extra $100 a
day to anyone who has been deployed for more than 400 days in two years.

Although the cost-conscious services asked for relief, Congress refused to
revoke the requirement this year. The extra pay could hit as early as Nov. 6.

However, a Pentagon source yesterday said Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld might invoke an emergency provision to suspend the pay
requirement during the current crisis.

The Navy and Marine Corps particularly have fought for a change in the
deployment pay rule, which they say imposes a barrier to sea duty -- the
essence of the naval services' mission.

Although the other services have been less vocal in opposition, the pay
provision could hit the Air Force and Army in some of its small, specialty units that are used extensively for every contingency.

The deployment provision was proposed by members of the House Armed
Services Committee who are considered strongly pro-defense. They pushed it because they believed "the military is deploying people too much," a
committee spokesman said.

The Navy and Marines agreed and, even before the new requirement,
adopted deployment rules that try to limit the time their personnel are away
from home.