Brent Scowcroft Center for International Security Senior Fellow James Joyner writes for The National Interest on the need to reform the military’s retirement plan due to overwhelming costs which hinder the continuing development of the armed forces:
After half a decade of study, the Pentagon has proposed to Congress a radical overhaul of the military retirement system. The new plan addresses the unfairness of a system in which most who serve in uniform earn nothing toward their future retirement but makes serving a full career less attractive. More importantly, while the primary incentive for the new plan is to improve military readiness by reducing the cost of retirees, it’s doubtful the plan will actually save money given its reliance on retention bonuses and failure to address the massive issue of healthcare costs.
For generations, the Department of Defense has enticed people to make a career of the military by offering a generous pension after at least twenty years of service. Known as “cliff vesting,” those who served for fewer than twenty years got nothing while those who made it to twenty get 50 percent of their base pay for life upon retirement. Those who stay in past twenty years defer that benefit but accrue an additional 2.5 percent of their pay a year, maxing out at 75 percent at thirty years.