Letter sent to:
U.S. Representatives: John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Norm Dicks, C.W. "Bill" Young, Howard "Buck" McKeon & Adam Smith
U.S. Senate: Carl Levin, John McCain, Daniel Inouye, Thad Cochran, Harry Reid & Mitch McConnell
24 April 2012
On behalf of the membership of the Association of the United States Army, I write to urge you to reject the Department of Defense budget proposal that would create a BRAC-like commission to change the current military retirement system. The history of military retirement reform shows the need for caution and deliberation. The1986 REDUX plan cut the 20-year retirement value by 25 percent. Recruitment and retention problems quickly followed, impelling Congress to repeal the system in 2001.
A one year BRAC-like commission inhibits substantive review and necessitates resorting to existing studies that propose deeper benefit cuts than the failed REDUX system. A limited congressional review with no opportunity for amendments or significant debate is unwise for a retirement system so vital to national security - greater scrutiny is needed, not less.
Recent retirement system proposals aimed at “civilianizing” the military system show a complete failure to understand the enormous gulf between a Soldier’s career in the profession of arms and the corporate workforce. A “401-k” type plan eliminates the predictability of benefits and offering retirement benefits earlier in a career reduces the incentives for the best and brightest to serve a full career in uniform and diminishes the benefits of those who do.
A military career requires extraordinary sacrifice by those serving A military career requires extraordinary sacrifice by those serving and their families over decades – in essence, they write a blank check to the United States for an amount up to and including their life. The unique nature of military retirement benefits plays a key role in inducing high quality people to serve a full career under arduous conditions that civilians simply do not face. Changes to that system must be made after careful consideration rather than a “quick-fix” up or down vote.
GORDON R. SULLIVAN
General, USA Retired