Pentagon Reportedly Ready to Accept Retirement Pay Cuts

From Times Wire Services

In a major policy reversal, the Defense Department is prepared to accept cuts in military retirement pay, it was reported Sunday.

Citing unnamed senior civilian officials in the Pentagon, the New York Times said that the reductions would affect pensions for retired officers and noncommissioned officers.

A willingness to accept such cuts marks a turnaround for the Pentagon, which has vigorously defended retirement pay from mounting Capitol Hill criticism.


Pressure in Congress

Reductions in retirement pay have been opposed by the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. However, senior Pentagon policy-makers are aware of pressure in Congress for change and believe that it would be better to accept smaller cuts now rather than larger ones later, the newspaper said.

In addition, the Pentagon would have a large measure of control over the changes under current reduction proposals. Senior officials are aware that the Pentagon could lose that control if the proposals are rejected, the paper reported.

The policy-makers said that rejection of the proposals could lead Congress not only to reduce retirement pay but also possibly alter the retirement system in a way that would make a career in the armed forces less attractive.

Subcommittee Vote

The change of policy became known after the House Armed Services subcommittee on military manpower and compensation voted Thursday to reduce the Reagan Administration’s request for military retirement pay to $14.2 billion from $18.2 billion. The measure was proposed by Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.).

Senior officials told the newspaper that Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger had initially opposed Aspin’s measure in an effort to show support for the military. But they said that he later became aware that Aspin had the votes in the House to carry his measure.