Defense secretary to push military retirement reform

Defense secretary to push military retirement reform

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter this week will push to reform military retirement benefits in order to build the "force for the future." 

Carter plans to call for a 401(k)-style retirement account that would allow those who serve fewer than 20 years to leave with some benefits, according to USA Today.

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Currently, only troops who serve 20 years and beyond receive retirement benefits. The vast majority of troops, about 83 percent, leave before the 20-year mark. 

The recommendation comes after a Congressionally appointed military compensation commission released its proposals to reform military benefits, which included a 401(k)-style plan. 

The plan, if enacted, would apply to those joining the military. It would not apply to those currently serving, although they would have the chance to opt in, according to commission members. 

The proposal was positively received by members of Congress, when it was unveiled earlier this year. But since then, several military officials have privately criticized the plan, which they say would encourage troops to leave before 20 years. 

Carter intends to move quickly to enact changes before the end of the Obama administration in early 2017, a senior aide told USA Today

The Defense secretary will also promote creating incentives for cyber warriors and discuss allowing troops to have mid-career breaks for school or family, or sabbaticals for troops to return to college.

He will discuss these ideas on a two-day trip to Pennsylvania and New York, where he speak at his old high school and visit military bases. 

Carter is also considering easing some military enlistment standards, in order to recruit those interested in military cyber or high-tech jobs, as part of the Pentagon's push to boost the numbers of its cyber force. 

Standards that could be relaxed could include age requirements or disqualifications over "minor drug offenses" — according to The Associated Press. 
 
The Pentagon is trying to build a cyber force of 6,200 personnel but currently only has about half that many now. Military leaders have complained it is difficult to attract cyber professionals, since they can make more money in private industry than in the military. 
 
The Pentagon also waived some standards in mid-2000s in seeking to recruit more troops to meet the demands of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, including age and criminal record standards. 
 
— This story was updated at 10:58 a.m.