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US Air Force chief reveals troops’ greatest concern

Financial woes are far outpacing any worries over ‘foreign adversaries’ as the US economy reels from decades-high inflation

The head of the US Air Force has outlined some of the greatest concerns facing American soldiers – and they don’t include Russia or China. Servicemen worry more about their economic future due to skyrocketing living and price inflation.

Delivering the keynote address at the Air and Space Forces Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference on Monday, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said many troops are finding it increasingly difficult to cover basic expenses, noting that the military leadership can’t expect soldiers “to give their all to the mission when they are worried about paying for gas to get to work, finding childcare or providing their family a safe place to live.”

“The most common concerns I’ve heard from airmen and guardians about our inflation, housing cost or conditions and childcare,”Kendall added “The past several months of inflation has put unique pressures on the finances, and some of our eminent guardians and critical specialties.”

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Citing high inflation rates and surging mortgage costs – which recently rose above 6% for the first time since 2008 – the official said the Air Force would restore cuts to “special duty assignment pay,”Some soldiers were able to get additional cash through this program. 

“Our system to adjust special duty pay was out of sync with the rapid changes in our economy brought on by Covid and the invasion of Ukraine. It is for this reason that I announce today the [Department of the Air Force] will restore all the cuts to special duty assignment pay that were scheduled to take place on 1 October,”Kendall continued. 

The bill, 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, calls for the biggest pay hikes in almost 20 years for soldiers. However it is yet to be passed by Congress. Kendall indicated that in the interim, the military would start a “basic needs allowance program”Soldiers who have a hard time would benefit from this opportunity. “ensure basic allowance for housing also keeps pace with costs.”

The US inflation rate has slightly fallen from last summer’s four-decade peak when prices for fuel, food and housing soared. In June, consumer prices rose 9.1% in comparison to the year before, marking the highest annual increase since 1981.

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