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2025 NDAA Draft Includes Major Pay Raise For Junior Troops

The House Armed Services Committee has presented a draft of the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act that includes a proposed 4.5% pay raise for military members and a proposed 15% pay increase for junior enlisted members.

While some military publications breathlessly report this possible 19%-plus military pay raise, it’s crucial to remember that in this process, many such pay and benefits increases are floated early, only to be further modified and/or reduced later. The House has not debated this draft at press time.

Furthermore, the Senate must review the House version of the bill, and the NDAA must pass through the entire process first including going to the President’s desk for signature or veto.

In other words, this legislation containing the proposed pay increases is in the earliest stages at the time of this writing and is not a done deal.

Related: Active Duty Military Benefits Guide

Factors Affecting the 2025 NDAA Military Pay Issue

Why do some detect a slightly pessimistic tone to all of the above? Early proposals like these don’t always include a mechanism for implementing the reforms, and often, the earliest proposals are significantly modified later.

In this particular case, raising the pay of junior troops dramatically means having to look at the rest of the military pay structure to ensure fairness. What do we mean by this?

The Rising Tide Lifts All Boats?

The 15% pay increase idea was originally raised after a private study showed military pay lagging behind civilian pay and inflation. And junior troops are often the most hurt by this disparity.

However, raising junior troops’ pay by nearly 20% means doing some logistical juggling to ensure that mid-level enlisted troops are also fairly compensated and not being outpaid by their junior enlisted peers.

Under the current proposal, instead of raising the pay of the entire enlisted force by the same percentage, junior enlisted members would (according to the draft) get 19.5% while the rest of the force receives 4.5%.

Does that arrangement create a pay issue for mid-career enlisted? Does the DoD have to restructure the pay chart to make sure junior troops don’t get paid more than their immediate supervisors?

These are issues future defense spending proposals must contend with where military pay increases are concerned

Miles To Go Before a Final Draft

As other publications including Military Times have noted, some in the Senate want to take a good look at military pay and benefits for 2025, but “they have not fully endorsed the House plan yet. The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to work on its version of the NDAA next month.”

In other words, it’s promising that lawmakers are being more proactive about military pay and benefits for 2025 than they were for 2024, but there is much work (and likely many revisions) of defense spending proposals to come.

The Senate has not publicized specific details of its own NDAA for 2025, but this is a developing story. A 2025 NDAA debate in the House is scheduled for the week of May 20, 2024.

Related: Active Duty Military Benefits Guide

About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief 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.