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New defense law includes pay, mobilization provisions.

When President Barack Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act Dec 31, he enacted new laws on military pay and mobilization.

These laws started the new year with the Defense Appropriation Bill that the president signed Dec. 23, which provides $5.2 billion for the Air Force Reserve budget in fiscal year 2012.

The bill increases both regular and Reserve Airmen's pay by 1.6 percent and includes several programs that affect Reservists, retirees and their families.

The new budget funds Air Force Reserve operations and the training of 34 wings, funds 117,769 flying hours, and maintains 344 aircraft.

Air Force Reserve manning levels increase from 70,200 to 71,400 Reservists, and the new budget funds 4,157 civilian employees.

The Air Force Reserve budget is about 4 percent of the total Air Force budget and includes $3.27 billion for operations and maintenance for air operations, service support and civilian pay; $1.7 billion for military personnel; and $33.6 million for military construction.

The Reserve's construction budget includes $16.3 million for a new airfield control tower and base operations building at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., and $9.5 million for a RED HORSE civil engineering readiness and training facility at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.

The new laws authorize the secretary of defense to mobilize reserve components for national disasters or emergencies. This mobilization is restricted to no more than 120 days and must be in response to a governor's request. Although each state's National Guardsmen have been called up in the past, this is a new mobilization role for Title 10 or federal military forces.

In another unprecedented act, the service secretaries are now authorized to mobilize reserve components as part of preplanned missions included in the defense budget. No more than 60,000 Reservists may be mobilized by the service secretaries at any one time and not for more than 365 consecutive days.

Also, one-year extensions are authorized for certain bonuses and special pay. This includes reimbursement for inactive-duty training outside of normal commuting distances for qualified individuals.

Reservists mobilized frequently for extended periods may draw income replacement pay until Dec. 31, 2012. Hostile fire and imminent danger pay have been modified and will now be prorated to daily rather than a monthly rate.

Health-care professionals who qualify, as well as Reservists who are assigned to certain high-priority units or reenlistment categories, may receive bonuses and special pay in 2012.

The new law clarifies the rules for Reservists' eligibility for 180 days of medical care at the end of extended active-duty tours. Also, the law defines the authority of the Army and Air Force secretaries to retain military technicians to age 60.

Retirees may see an increase in enrollment fees for Tricare Prime health insurance. As of Oct. 1, 2012, retiree premiums may increase by the same percentage as their annual cost-of-living raises, according to the new law.

Although not directly affecting Air Force Reserve members, another historic "first" was included in the new law when it added the chief of the National Guard Bureau to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The new post has specific responsibilities addressing matters involving Guardsmen, homeland defense and civil support missions.

Also, Reserve and National Guard officers will now be considered for appointments to command Army Northern Command and Air Force Northern Command for the first time. (Col. Bob Thompson, Air Force Reserve public affairs, Washington, D.C.)
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Title Annotation:ROUND THE RESERVE
Publication:Citizen Airman
Date:Feb 1, 2012
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