Pentagon Pay

A new committee will examine the military pay system and could recommend changes.

The Defense Department formed a new committee to review military pay policies and recommend updates to the system that serves more than 1.4 million uniformed personnel.

The Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation held its first public meeting on May 11 to explain its mission. The group also held meetings on May 10 with senior Defense officials.

Each committee member is scheduled to serve for a one-year term and can be reappointed for up to a year. Not coincidentally, the committee is designed to conclude its work within two years.

"The committee shall provide the secretary of Defense, through the undersecretary of Defense (personnel and readiness), with assistance and advice on matters pertaining to military compensation," the charter reads. "More specifically, the committee shall identify approaches to balance military pay and benefits in sustaining recruitment and retention of high-quality people, as well as a cost-effective and ready military force."

The Army, the National Guard and the reserve components have been saddled with reports of missed recruiting deadlines in recent months.

A Defense Department spokeswoman said the committee has been charged with determing "if the present pay and benefits allowance system provides a level of compensation, in both peace and war, that is appropriate."

She said the panel will also examine possible changes to hardship or risk-related compensation, retirement benefits and reserve compensation.

The group is scheduled to meet again in June.

The panel is led by retired Navy Adm. Donald Pilling, a former vice chief of naval operations. The board also includes John P. White, faculty chairman of the Middle East Initiative at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government; Martin Anderson, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution; Lester L. Lyles, former chief of the Air Force Materiel Command; Walter Oi, professor of economics at the University of Rochester; Frederic W. Cook, chairman of a management and compensation consulting firm; and Joseph E. Jannotta, former chairman of a human resources consulting firm. All are appointed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and are described in the committee's charter as "eminent authorities in the fields of compensation."

The committee members will serve as "special government employees without compensation," according to the charter.