Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week announced that he is recommending Congress limit military pay increases to 1 percent in 2014. In comparison, the pay increase in 2013 was 1.7 percent.
To put this in perspective, this is the smallest pay increase since 1962, when there was no pay increase. Despite the country’s involvement in protracted wars, pay increases for men and women in uniform have continued to decline. In 1978, when the country wasn’t even at war, the military’s pay increased by 6.2 percent.
The U.S. spends more on its military than almost the rest of the world combined, and the budget is rife with waste. But there is no evidence that the meager salaries of most members of the armed services is a major contributor to this waste. Polling shows that while Americans favor reducing waste in the Pentagon budget, they oppose major reductions in military pay.