US troops in Bahrain rap cut in danger pay
Manama, January 9, 2014
US troops stationed in Juffair have hit out against the Pentagon's decision to cut their pay after Bahrain was removed from a list of places in "imminent danger".
The US Department of Defence (DoD) announced on Friday that armed forces based in several countries would lose their entitlement to a $225 (BD85) per month pay incentive, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Imminent Danger Pay has applied to troops serving in Bahrain since 1997 and is designed to compensate US armed forces who are subject to physical harm or imminent danger due to wartime conditions, terrorism, civil insurrection or civil war.
According to a report in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, many sailors in Bahrain have questioned the pay cut.
They point to the heavy security presence at NSA Bahrain, where almost a quarter of staff are security personnel, and the fact that large swathes of the country are still off limits to US troops as proof of "imminent danger".
But others admitted feeling guilty about receiving the same amount of danger pay as troops serving in Afghanistan, said the report, because Bahrain is safer than most major American cities and no direct attacks have been recorded on US citizens despite the unrest.
Arguments over level of danger aside, almost all affected troops said that the extra $2,700 (BD1,018) a year heavily swayed their decision to come to the Gulf.
"I could have taken orders anywhere, but the reason I came here was the cash," said Lieutenant Commander Dean Liner.
"What about my sailors? If it's an incentive enough for a lieutenant commander, how much more of an incentive is it for junior sailors?"
Extra money was a major factor in petty officer third class Blake Contini's decision to come to Bahrain, he told Stars and Stripes.
"I picked orders to come here," he said.
"Back in the States, I was making $850 per paycheque... here, $1,300 (when factoring in tax free status and other allowances)."
Some troops complained about the lack of a subsidised grocery store on base and said the "expensive" supermarkets in Bahrain showed the need for an extra cash incentive.
To compensate for some of this loss, the DoD has announced the establishment of a $50 (BD18.850) a month hardship duty pay for US troops in Bahrain starting on June 1 - the same day imminent danger pay ends. - TradeArabia News Service