2023 National Defense Budget: More Money For Troops
The National Defense Authorization Act is the legal basis for funding the Department of Defense. It specifies a budget for the entire DoD, authorizes pay raises and acquisition programs, and much more.
Everyone in uniform is affected by the NDAA, as well as their immediate families. Each year, the NDAA must be passed by the House and Senate, and signed into law by the President.
The 2023 National Defense Budget, also known as the 2023 NDAA, cleared the House of Representatives in July 2022 and at press time awaits approval by the Senate and a signature from the President. What follows is based on the version of the NDAA which was approved by the House.
The Senate version may remove or modify some or all of the following options discussed below.
2023 National Defense Authorization Act: More Money For Troops And Families
A key part of the NDAA for any fiscal year? Military pay raises. The 2023 pay raise in the current NDAA calls for a 4.6% increase in military pay.
Compare that proposed increase to last year’s approved pay raise of 2.7%. For an E-5 with six years time-in-service, the 2023 pay raise could be worth an extra $150 every month.
- Some sources point out that while this pay increase looks impressive, it may not be enough to catch up with which is at nearly 8% for 2022. That’s where DoD officials hope an inflation bonus added to the 2023 NDAA might help.
- There is a proposed short-term pay bonus in the 2023 NDAA that would be applied to those earning less than $45 thousand per year in base pay.
- It works out to be a minimum of 2.4% of that base pay, but the catch is that this increase is (under the current version of the NDAA) only for the year 2023.
Higher Bonuses Proposed
The military’s secret weapon when it comes to recruiting and retention? The enlistment bonus and the reenlistment bonus.
High-demand career fields such as intel, nuclear operations, and military medicine all potentially offer these bonuses. The 2023 NDAA features higher amounts:
- Enlistment bonuses which previously featured maximums of $50k, for example, would be increased to $75k in the new year.
- Re-enlistment bonuses may also go up to $50k (from the previous $30k).
- Those who qualify for proficiency pay bonuses or other incentive pay may find their maximums go up from $1000 to $1750.
Extensions to Temporary Authorization to Increase BAH
A temporary authorization to increase rates for Basic Allowance for Housing in 2022 (associated with inflation and rising housing cost) has been inserted into the 2023 NDAA as an extension of the original.
This could, if approved, mean more BAH money for troops living in areas where housing costs rise above a certain percentage.
Extensions To Guard/Reserve Incentive Pay
Some Guard and Reserve incentive pay options originally set to expire at the end of 2022 are being extended into 2023.
This affects skilled duty such as medicine or nuclear operations, but also affects incentive pay offered to “reserve component members experiencing extended and frequent mobilization for active duty service”.
Cold Weather Operations Pay or Arctic Pay
Troops assigned to cold weather bases, or who must train in frequent cold weather may be eligible to draw so-called Arctic Pay or cold weather operations pay. The 2023 NDAA authorizes a special pay that could be worth $300 extra per month. However, under the current version of the NDAA, this option is only permitted for the year 2023.
Some NDAA initiatives don’t survive revisions in the Senate. Each year many options are named with some making the cut and some being left “on the cutting room floor”. A proposed whistleblower incentive is one of those “iffy” measures that may or may not survive the next version of the act.
- The 2023 NDAA features a provision to pay up to $10 thousand or one percent of the savings realized as the result of servicemembers lodging whistleblower-type complaints about fraud, waste, and abuse in DoD operations.
- A similar program is already in effect, known as the DoD Suggestion Program, which is not specifically targeted at whistleblowing but does offer cash incentives for suggestions that are actually put into use and realize savings.
Another provision that may or may not make the cut is the allowance for pet relocation associated with a permanent change of station move. The DoD may reimburse you for up to $2,000 in charges associated with relocating a pet as part of a PCS move.
What to Know About the 2023 NDAA
The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act is some 3853 pages long and contains literally hundreds of provisions. At press time this has been placed on the Senate calendar but the NDAA has not made its way through the Senate approval process nor has it been sent to the President’s desk for signature. The previous version was approved by the Senate in late December 2021.
About the author
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.