Now Obama has yet again confirmed this decision.
President Obama’s latest policy outrage makes no attempt to hide his contempt for our military, as he is ordering that our troops serving overseas in war zones overseas are no to receive combat pay unless they are being shot at, or at risk of being injured by hostile aggression. A Marine who lives in Florida (also currently serving in Afghanistan) has just posted a note on facebook which stated that he received a letter from his MyPay account that he would only be receiving his Hazard pay (Imminent Danger Pay) if he actually in a hostile area and at the risk of being shot at.
“So I just got a letter from MyPay (the way we get paid in the military), saying that I will only receive Combat Pay while deployed for the days that I take fire or am in a hostile area. Now, as an Infantry Marine, I’m constantly in a combat zone…it may not always be popping off, but for them to take that away from us is bull----. Now the aviation tech who sits on Camp Leatherneck, sure, I can see him not getting Combat Pay, but to take it away from the grunts, that ground pounders, the front line of defense…come on, Uncle Sam. You let the Liberals win a big one here…Marine from Florida” (Name redacted) (Source (Conservative Action Alerts)
The Marine make a very a couple of valid points. While you are “outside the wire” you are in constant danger of getting hit. It could be a sniper taking potshots at your convoy; it could be that improvised explosive device cooking off while on a dismounted patrol; or it could be a group of combatants firing AK’s at helicopters as they fly overhead.
As a retired vet who has deployed into Southwest Asia a number of times I can tell you that the risk of getting shot at is constant. During my last deployment (2009), we saw an average of two to three rocket attacks a month. This might not seem like a whole lot, especially to those who are constantly “outside the wire,” but these rocket attacks were none the less dangerous to all who were on the FOB.
The second point the Marine makes is location. I don’t necessarily agree that someone who is in country (Afghanistan and until recently, Iraq) isn’t in danger of coming under fire. I can speak first hand of the dangers as I saw what happens when rockets are fired into a base. People die or they are injured.
But there are some cases where the danger is considerably less. When transitioning into the combat zone, there are a couple of locations that are a considerable distance from the danger zone. During my forays into the “sandbox” I stopped in Qatar both inbound and outbound. The danger there was so low that personnel assigned to this location could actually go off base to a few designated areas. In fact, Qatar was used heavily as a rest and relaxation location for troops spending a year or more in the combat zone. So locations like these certainly wouldn’t qualify as a combat zone.
Also, I wonder, to receive the combat pay, if you must actually take fire. When I was in Iraq in 2009 my duty required me to expose myself to the possibility of fire on many occasions. Because I had troops assigned to locations across Iraq, I made a point to visit them as often as I could. On nearly every occasion the aircraft that I was flying in took some sort of fire. I flew to many locations across the region, sometimes by helicopter, sometimes by fixed-wing. And we got shot at almost every time. It wasn’t standard procedure to return fire, just get the heck out of the area. Just because I didn’t return fire didn’t mean that I wasn’t engaged in combat. This is one of those cases where it doesn’t necessarily take two to tango.
On top of all of all of this, the hostile fire pay was another way of rewarding the people who were serving in the combat zone. Don’t get me wrong, most of us didn’t serve to make money as there really isn’t any money to be made unless you have some rank. But it certainly was a nice “thank you” for putting yourself in harm’s way.
Obama has a track record of shafting the military folks and all of Michelle Obama’s work with families of the troops is not going to be able to undo the damage.
BTW: Shortly after the retirement ceremony I had someone hint that I might be a racist for not having the thank you letter from Obama read at my ceremony. Of course, the person was white. I called over one of my subordinates, who happened to be black, the truth. This individual explained to the idiot that I might be a lot of things, but racist wasn’t one of them.