“How You Like That Pay, Soldier?”

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Troops get paid in lots of different ways. There’s basic pay, allowances, bonuses, incentives and assorted housing, health and retirement bennies. Is this the best way to compensate U.S. military personnel? In other words, are we getting the biggest bang for the taxpayer’s buck with this rucksack of options?

Defense budget pro Todd Harrison of the independent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments is trying to figure this out. He’s launching an on-line survey to see what the troops think. “Before the Pentagon or Congress start making changes to military compensation, we should first try to understand what benefits are most important, and least important, to people in the military,” he says. “For example, TRICARE for Life costs about $5,500 per year per service member to provide — $11 billion annually. Would service members prefer an extra $3,000 in annual pay instead?”

Troops, vets and potential members of the military are invited to help answer these kinds of questions by taking CSBA’s not-too-lengthy survey by clicking on