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Soldiers and scabs

By Son of Uncle Sam on Tuesday November 10, 2009 02:35 PM

This story is a year stale, but not for a vet of the 10th Mountain Division. Nope, for me this story never goes stale. Just mention battle duty pay to me and I'll go red-knuckle crazy mad till beer 13 at least.

Last year the Congressional Budget Office did a study of military contractors in Iraq. Among other things they compared the cost to the taxpayer of mercenaries -- or more politely, "contractors" -- and soldiers. Turns out they're just about the same (though the contractor sees more of it in his paycheck).

Alternet's takeaway, however, from the pen of one John Basil Utley, was the shocking cost of keeping a sergeant in Iraq -- half a mil a year! Horrors! This is pretty much bullshit. Let's assume Utley's vague account of monetary compensation ("actual cash pay between $51,000 and $69,000 a year") refers to time in grade and he's not slip-streaming up the chevrons between Sergeant (E-5) and Master Sergeant (E-8), all of which would be addressed as Sergeant. Troops are there 24/7, so that's 8760 hours a year, minus 168 for R&R twice a year, a total of 8424 hours a year doing what he's paid to do. So his hourly pay equals between $6.05 and $8.19 an hour.


Non-cash benefits — pensions, medical care, child care, housing, commissaries — likely double this amount, even during peacetime. Pensions are the biggest ticket item. The average retirement benefit for a soldier or sailor who stays in for 20 years equals $2.6 million, if he or she lives to the age of 77....
These costs are counted as part of a soldier's compensation, half a mil huh. A "buck" Sergeant earns $1993.00 a month. Most sergeants are single and unmarried. They live in military baracks, while in Iraq housing consists of tents or conex containers. The commisary is the Base or Post exchange, it recaptures plenty of soldier pay for Uncle -- but hey, what was that first one on the laundry list again. Something about a pension for an "average soldier" -- please note, an average sergeant.

A soldier's pension is 75% of his base pay. If a sergeant never gets promoted past pay grade E-6, Uncle Sam gives him his walking papers. Current rate for an E-6 with 20 years of dedicated service -- $40,438.80 gross base pay. If he was recuited at 18 years of age he'd have 39 golden years at an annual rate of $30,329 a year! That's $583.25 a week, times 39 years = $1,182,834.90. But then as Utley parenthetically notes,

... most soldiers don't stay in the service long enough to get this benefit.
"A major portion of the $500,000 figure comes from the "support staff" and rotation system that allows for recuperation, training, and accumulated vacations after each year in combat. It's allocated on the basis of one or two sergeants in the United States backing up each one overseas. " Sounds like Utley dosn't think our soldiers are earning their keep!
"Contractors, meanwhile, are increasingly filling the roles once played by U.S. Army personnel. In terms of total costs, the CBO points out that there are about an equal number of contractors as soldiers, the highest proportion for any war in American history. However, only 20% are U.S. citizens. And most contractors, for example kitchen personnel, are paid much less than the guards who earn $1,222 per day. The report also notes that their contracts allow for much more flexibility and shorter assignments than what regular Army soldiers cost the government."
The long arm of corporate empire strikes. Uncle wants to hire rats, eh? Sounds like the makin' for a good old-fashioned strike! That meager wage, high work hazards, bad food, crappy quarters stinko death benefit -- shit, Saddam paid Palestinian martyrs better than this -- and throw in the donut killers and the psychos fropm Blackwater and Triple Canopy taking jobs in record numbers! Our troops got the manpower and arms to raise Capt. Shays and Big Bill Haywood from the grave!

You want mercs, Uncle, fighting our war? I say, take a strike, dude. Every union defends its work!

I here announce the future of national defense -- Soldiers Airman Marines and Sailors Local #1.

The SAMS union: Make our livin' laying foreign souls to rest.

Our corporate empire wants results? It's time they start paying for it. Union work for bid is the only way. Not with these Blackwater ass hounds in armored Chevy Tahoes that can't even croon "Satisfaction"

Uncle Sam, you want to take a village, fine, here's my bid. We've got our own foreman, thank you. Your officers are obsolete. Fuck off, General Nobody! Clear your desk, and take that Geneva Conventions garbage back to wherever the hell it came from, since we only use it to play hangman! Lower the flag at West Point!

See you in Vegas, comrades at the SAMS convention. I'll be the one caught cornholing a raw delegate! _

Comments (8)


a veteran speaks his mind

and on
the one day of the year
pwogs need to listen the fuck up

or some no lip ranger
might just put a flower
up yer gun mr woodstock

Oh just look for,
the union label,
when you are buying,
a tank, bomb or plane!

Son of Uncle Sam:

"A weapon unused,... is a useless weapon."

Al Schumann:

There's something to be said for this. But it needs a bit more. The middle man in this, the USG, is utterly parasitic. There's no need for it. It's just one great big, honking negative externality from start to finish. It squats there sucking value and adding overhead. If we're going to have an empire, the consumer-citizens should think about forming a purchasing cooperative and engage SAMS in direct bargaining. It would be better for labor and better for the consumers, not to mention the villages.

If I were negotiating on behalf of SAMS, I'd demand half up front, at the very least. Imperial spending sprees notoriously attract deadbeats, foolish punters, squirrels and renegers. Even cornholing them wouldn't help. Although as a bargaining tactic, it has plenty of merit.


Sam's Club


army as syndicate
i like it

btw stO
i think the sam's club reference is precisely
the one son of sam had in mind


Damnit op! Now I've got coffee all over my keyboard again.

Son of Uncle Sam:

Like a Modern Continental-

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