July 17, 2003
The Honorable John Warner Chairman
The Honorable Carl Levin
Ranking Member Senate Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Warner and Senator Levin:
Section 523 of the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act contains a provision of great concern to me and my constituents. The House authorized reservists 38 duty days as opposed to the current law (10 USC Section 10147) which authorizes 48 drills and 14 days of annual training. The net effect of this change would be to cut reservist pay by 40 percent.
Now is not a time to tinker with reserve pay structures. The reserves are a crucial part of our military force structure, and we rely on their skills, their courage and their patriotism every day. At present more than 200,000 members of the National Guard and reserve are on active duty. Others can expect orders soon given our significant military obligations. When called, these brave men and women serve with honor and distinction. I am greatly concerned that any measure that reduces compensation for drill and annual training is unfair to service members and risks driving members from the reserves at a time when the nation relies on their strength and devotion around the world in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
I urge the conference committee to retain the current 48 drill pay structure and strike the provision contained in Section 523 of the House bill from the final authorization act.
John F. Kerry