WASHINGTON — U.S. military personnel in Niger, Mail and parts of Cameroon have been added to those receiving “imminent danger pay” while deployed — less than a week after the U.S. commander for African operations told Congress his request for those funds had been mired for months in the bureaucracy.
The approval, which was granted Monday but circulated Thursday night, is backdated to June 7, 2017. That is months before last fall’s ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. services personnel, qualifying families of the slain soldiers as well as others who were deployed in Niger back pay.
Imminent danger pay is a flat monthly payment of $225 to troops on duty outside the U.S. and subject to physical harm or imminent danger due to wartime conditions, terrorism, civil insurrection or civil war, the Pentagon said.
The pay — $225 per month deployed, or $7.50 per day for partial months — was approved as Defense Secretary James Mattis reviews final drafts of an investigation of the October 4 ambush in Niger. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of U.S. African Command, completed the final report last week. It is expected to be released this month, detailing what went wrong and recommendations for adjustments.
U.S. forces in Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tunisia and Uganda already qualified for the danger pay, which is one of the reasons Waldhauser told Congress the other areas where anti-ISIS and anti-terrorist operations were engaged should also qualify.
Pentagon policy authorizes hostile pay for a service member who is involved in a hostile fire incident even if the location is not authorized for imminent danger pay. There are several different classifications for extra pay in hostile areas, part of more than 60 special and incentive pays available.
Members of the military who serve in designated combat zones can also exclude certain pay from income when determining federal taxes.
Under Pentagon guidelines, service personnel in Niger, Mali and northern Cameroon previously qualified for $150 in “hazardous duty location pay.” That incentive for U.S. troops was reduced to $100 with the approval of imminent danger pay to meet a Pentagon cap on the incentives when combined.