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article imageOp-Ed: Canada — Danger pay reduced for Canadian troops in Afghanistan

By Karl Gotthardt     Apr 10, 2013 in Politics
Ottawa - The Department of National Defence (DND) has reduced danger pay of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, quoting lower risks. The cut in danger pay comes half way through a tour of over 900 Canadian trainers. Does that make sense?
The cuts in danger pay, which amount to approximately $500 a month, according to CBC News, become effective in mid April. Members of the military and their families plan on the additional funds and are part of the motivation for a soldier to volunteer for overseas tours.
According to the CBC article the decision came as a result of an assessment that the mission is not as dangerous as it used to be. This, however is only part of the story. Danger pay was previously based on soldiers being deployed to Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. Canadian troops were deployed to Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) and had contact with insurgents on a daily basis. There was also the inherent danger from patrolling villages, moving over areas that contained hidden improvised explosive devices (IED). To reassess the risk, in view of a training mission, makes sense, but the cutbacks should be delayed until the completion of the present tour.
DND reviews hardship and risks of Canadian missions annually. While the allowances for hardship and risk are not subject to budgetary efficiencies to be found within the DND budget, the category can change with a reassessment.
The allowances for hardship and risk remain in place and are not subject to efficiencies identified in deficit reduction initiatives, the official told CTV News.
Operation Attention is Canada’s contribution to the NATO-led training mission in Afghanistan, whose goal is to bolster the war-ravaged country’s national security forces.
In addition to danger pay, troops are also entitled to an “operations foreign service premium” of $759 per month and a tax relief benefit for the six month period. The benefits, allowances and tax relief add up to approximately $14,000 for the six month period.
To determine hardship allowance, DND allocates a risk factor of one to six (very austere) and risk from one to four (constant risk). Not being in daily contact with insurgents is obviously not as dangerous and soldiers probably don't rely on personal ration packs to feed themselves.
While DND's decision is understandable, it should be delayed until the completion of the present tour.
Update:
CBC News reports that the PMO Office has nixed the decision to reduce danger pay.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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