Marines and sailors deployed longer than 220 days in a row are to start receiving a new op tempo pay intended to reward them for the hardships of serving through an extended deployment.
Hardship Duty Pay-Tempo is to be paid out at a rate of $16.50 a day for each day a service member is deployed beyond 220 days, up to a monthly rate of $495, according to new figures the Navy announced Wednesday.
Any deployed sailor or Marine — active-duty and reserve, whether aboard ship or boots on the ground, to include Seabees, Navy divers and SEALs, Marines with new land-based crisis response units and other expeditionary forces — will receive the new pay. It is a major achievement for Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the first of the three service secretaries to compensate troops specifically for the hardships of long deployments.
"The Navy and Marine Corps' unique ability to provide and maintain a global presence is made possible by the hard work of our Sailors and Marines," Mabus said in a statement Wednesday.
"For some time now, these men and women have met the significant demand for our forces without waver. As the need for our presence continues, Hardship Duty Pay-Tempo is an important effort to further compensate our Sailors and Marines for their willingness to take on extended deployments and for the front-line role they continue to play in keeping our nation, and our world, safe."
The deployment pay will start effective Wednesday and among the first to receive it will be sailors and Marines deployed with the Bataan amphibious ready group, which as of Thursday has been deployed for 222 days. The Bataan ARG, which includes the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, the amphibious transport dock Mesa Verde and the dock landing ship Gunston Hall, were extended in late August to be ready to counter Islamic State militants destabilizing Syria and Iraq.
The Bush carrier strike group, on what's slated to be a 9-month cruise, is also set to receive the new deployment pay. The Defense Department has approved the pay for two years and pay systems are being updated to disburse it.
Sailors who qualify for it will start accruing it and will see it in their pay checks by the end of the year as the systems are updated, the Navy said.