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August 26, 2010

"Non-combat" Iraq troops still get combat pay

Since the 4/2 Stryker brigade left Iraq earlier this month, there has been quite a debate about whether combat missions are officially over in Iraq. The U.S. military says that there are now only training brigades left, outfitted with things like more engineers to train their Iraqi counterparts. And on Tuesday, President Obama is scheduled to give an Oval Office speech declaring the end of the combat phase of the war. So does that mean combat is over?


According to the military’s payroll records at least, it’s not. According to this report, soldiers will still get combat pay in Iraq even after Sept. 1, when combat operations officially end and the mission becomes a training one.  That soldiers still get combat pay suggests that the declared end of combat is more a symbolic gesture rather than a substantive one. After all, there are still roughly 50,000 soldiers still in Iraq. And even if they are not tasked with a combat role, the minute they are under attack and have to fire a weapon, they became a combat soldier again. There is no such thing as a non-combat soldier in a war zone, and their continued combat pay reflects that.  


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Xander's Mimi

My husband got IDP for his entire tour in Bahrain, and we were stationed there with him. For quite some time after September 11 all U.S. military bases abroad were in ThreatCon Charlie and he got IDP when we were stationed in Naples, Italy.


Based on comments, there seems to be some confusion about the imprecise term "combat pay" in the article, which is not an official DOD designation.

I assume it refers to Hostile Fire and Imminent Danger Pay which is the designation for duty in a geographical location where hostilities or other threats may be present. (See: http://www.military.com/benefits/military-pay/special-pay/hostile-fire-and-imminent-danger-pay)

Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay, discussed by other commenters, is based on the nature of the assignment (e.g., parachute jumping, handling toxic or explosive materials, etc.). (See: http://www.military.com/benefits/military-pay/special-pay/hazardous-duty-incentive-pay).

Official designation of the mission as one of combat or non-combat is not necessarily germane to either. While a "combat mission" necessarily involves operating in a location where hostilities are present or threatened, a "non-combat mission" may, as well.

Wm. J. McGowan, II

FYI -Is is not really combat pay, it is hazardous duty pay for service in a hazardous area. That has been the law since Vietnam.


Service members in Afghanistan and Iraq receive two entitlements on their LES (Leave and Earnings Statement) for being deployed to that area.

First, they receive HDP - Location, Hazardous Duty Pay based on Location.

Second, they receive HFP/IDP, Hazardous Fires Pay/Imminent Danger Pay.

I don't think either of those sounds unreasonable.


You should do a little research before you post this stuff. Combat pay is given to many soldiers out in the field. It is essentially hazardous duty pay. 'Combat' is just its name. It has been awhile since I have been in, but from what I remember, most deployments overseas, regardless, are given this type of pay.

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"Nukes & Spooks" is written by McClatchy correspondents Jonathan S. Landay (national security and intelligence), Warren P. Strobel (foreign affairs and the State Department), and Nancy Youssef (Pentagon).

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