Pentagon suspends special military deployment per diem

The Defense Department has suspended its requirement that services track deployment days and pay $100 per day to troops who are deployed more than 400 days in any two-year period. The 2000 National Defense Authorization Act mandated that the services report how many days each service member spends deployed. Any service member deployed more than 400 days in the previous two years was to have received $100 for each additional deployment day past 400, Pentagon officials said. The counting started Oct. 1, 2000, so the earliest anyone could have been eligible for the high-deployment per diem is early November. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz announced the policy change in an Oct. 8 memo to the service secretaries. The suspension took effect immediately, he said. Brad Loo, deputy director for officer and enlisted personnel management, explained the counting was suspended by invoking a "national security waiver" authorized in the initial law. "Days they are deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom are no longer being accumulated for purposes of high deployment per diem," Loo said. He added the suspension applies to all service members regardless of where they are deployed, because all are supporting the operation either directly or indirectly. When the waiver eventually lifts, the services will resume counting the troops' deployed days where they left off. That is, a service member who had 201 deployed days credited on Oct. 8 resumes the count at 201 when the waiver is lifted, Loo said The law initially was intended to generate changes to better distribute the load of deployment across the force, with high-deployment per diem paid to those who absorbed more than their share of that load. The law provides the waiver so the services wouldn't be penalized for deploying members in a time of national emergency, Loo explained.