Updated: September 19, 2014
Today a newspaper, The Independent, in United Kingdom published a story about how some members of the British Army must take out loans just to be able to eat. I thought after reading the story a comparison would be in order.
Much like the United States’ Military the British provides compensation for food, housing and travel. They also have special pays for things like jumping out of perfectly good airplanes or going on a ship that sinks on purpose. But for this article I am only going to compare our basic enlisted US military pay against the basic pay of the British Soldier pay for 2008.
When you look at the British chart you will see ranks of OR1, 2, all the way to OR9. The OR number equates to the United States military E-1, 2, etc. The only change is E-5 and E-6 are equivalent in rank to OR6. The British chart also displays “levels” – If I remember correctly the level can be job specific. As an example, a newly enlisted infantry Soldier may enter service as an OR1 Level 1 whereas an Electronics trained technician may start out as an OR1 Level 9. In the US Military everyone of equal rank and time in service gets the same basic pay regardless of the job you are trained to do. With how confusing the pay structure is it must make recruiting in the UK a difficult proposition at best.
A new enlistee into the British Military will receive £13,012.80 – essentially our E-1 under 4 months. I will start with the more generic; an OR1 level 1 according to the chart gets a yearly basic pay of £16,226.76 or by using today’s pound to dollar rate of $1.9541 per pound it equals $31,709 as compared to a US Military E-3 at $19,056.
Lets take a look at the higher end of the scale. A US Military E-9 with over 20 years of service makes before taxes $59880 as compared to an OR9 Level 5 at $77,782.
Does it cost about 30% more to live in the UK than it does in the US? (Well, my only point of reference is a Big Mac costs about 20% more in the UK :)) Regardless, it is appalling that this discussion about how little we pay the members of the armed forces even takes place at all. Today, every Sailor, Soldier, Airman and Marine volunteered to serve – keep in mind “volunteer” doesn’t mean “work for free”.
How about we do this – take a poll of every tax paying citizen – ask them how much pay it would take to get them to go fight a war, average that number and pay it to those who did volunteer. Let us also put a law into place that when The President, Prime Minister, Parliament and Congress sends troops into harms way their pay stops until the conflict is over and the troops come home. Ahh, I’m ranting and it’s late… Good nite and sleep well – you can because we don’t serve only for the money :)