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Battlefield Airmen incentive pay to be based on skill versus duty

Senior Airman Paul Cauge, a 274th Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, uses a laser rangefinder designator for a close air support training mission July 29, 2015, at Grayling Air Gunnery Range in Grayling, Mich., during Northern Strike 2015. The annual exercise involved hundreds of military personnel from 20 states, as well as Canada, Latvia, Poland and Australia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Scott Thompson)

Senior Airman Paul Cauge, a 274th Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, uses a laser rangefinder designator for a close air support training mission July 29, 2015, at Grayling Air Gunnery Range in Grayling, Mich., during Northern Strike 2015. The annual exercise involved hundreds of military personnel from 20 states, as well as Canada, Latvia, Poland and Australia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Scott Thompson)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Based on new authority from the Defense Department, the Air Force announced its intent to begin a pilot program providing battlefield Airmen skill incentive pay based on qualified skills versus performed duties.

The new incentive pay, which will replace hazardous duty incentive pays, are designed to incentivize Airmen to maintain qualifications for critical and essential skills such as jump, dive and demolition. Currently, Battlefield Airmen only receive these incentives when performing their duties, and limit monthly payments when an Airman is unable to perform these skills due to medical restrictions or career broadening opportunities.  

"Our nation requires that we send our Battlefield Airmen into harm's way and calls for them to operate in some of the most dangerous places on the planet," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. "Their training is extensive and grueling, and they maintain the skills that our Air Force and
joint force rely on."

"The current pay structure was causing unnecessary financial burdens for these warriors when their incentive pay would stop during temporary medical restrictions or a career broadening assignment," he said. "We now have the authority to pay these warriors based on their qualifications, and this is the right way to take care of Airmen from whom we ask so much."

The change removes the financial disincentive currently associated with Battlefield Airmen seeking medical care or broadening assignments as instructors or members of headquarters staff under the hazardous duty pay program, for example. 

This three-year pilot program ensures the new incentive pay will be equal to existing incentive pays battlefield Airmen already receive in the following Air Force specialty codes: combat control, pararescue, tactical air control party, special operations weather, combat rescue officer, special tactics officer and air liaison officer.

Implementation of battlefield Airmen skill incentive pay is set for this fall. For more information, Airmen are encouraged to contact their local support squadron office.

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