Troops Ask Amid Debt Crisis: Will We Get Paid?

A half a world away from the Capitol Hill deadlock, the economy and debt crisis are weighing heavily on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

And the top question on their minds Saturday even as bombings rocked the city around them, was one the top U.S. military officer couldn't answer.

Will we get paid?

"I honestly can't answer that question," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told troops at Kandahar air base in southern Afghanistan, as several expressed anxiety over budget wrangling in Washington.

Mullen also told them they would continue to go to work each day.

But he offered a bit more optimism than defense officials have acknowledged when those questions have come up in recent weeks. He said he believed that troops would be paid eventually, regardless of what happens.

"I have confidence that at some point in time, whatever compensation you are owed, you will be given," said Mullen, who is making his 15th trip to Afghanistan, just two months before he retires. But, he noted, "There are plenty of you living paycheck to paycheck so if paychecks were stopped it would have a devastating impact very quickly."

"I'd like to give you a better answer than that right now, I just honestly don't know," he said.

Questions on military spending and how the ongoing budget struggles will impact them dominated the morning meeting at the Kandahar base, and it was the first one Marines asked when he moved on to Camp Leatherneck.

The U.S. has warned that it will run out of money to pay all of its bills after August 2 without a deal from Congress to raise a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Where U.S. troops fall in priority for payment in a default has not been made clear.

With $172 billion of revenue between August 3 and August 31, the U.S. Treasury could fully fund Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid, interest on the debt, defense vendor payments and unemployment insurance, found a study by the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center.

But that would leave entire government departments — such as Labor, Commerce, Energy and Justice — unfunded, and many others unpaid, like active-duty troops and the federal workforce.

Focus on money, jobs
Troops pressed Mullen on how much the Pentagon is spending on contractors, when many tasks could be done by military members. They questioned whether the budget pressures will focus on pay or equipment and other acquisition. They bemoaned what it could cost to implement the new policy repealing the ban on openly gay men and women serving in the military. And they wondered if their retirement pay was safe.

For his part, Mullen said the cost of repealing the gay ban was very limited. And he said there were no immediate plans to affect retirement benefits.

Mullen was visiting troops across southern Afghanistan on Saturday, a region that has been pummeled by violence and suicide attacks in recent weeks.

But there were only a smattering of questions on the military strategy or the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, which is beginning with a 10,000 drawdown by the end of this year.

Instead, it was all about money and job.

Mullen warned the troops that as time goes on, budget restrictions will pare down the size of the military, and he told them to keep that in mind as they pursue their education and try to further their careers so they will have a better chance of re-enlisting.

But in the end, he punted the questions back to Capitol Hill.

Asked whether Congress members would cut their own benefits if they acted to cut military pay, Mullen triggered chuckles when he recommended the troops e-mail their representatives with that query.

"They're the ones that can answer that particular question," he said at a town hall-style gathering of soldiers in Kandahar.

While a group of congressmen pushed forward a bill this week to ensure that the active military servicemen still get paid in the case of default, there's no firm plan yet.

The White House hasn't made any assurances and neither has the Treasury Department.

Some financial organizations that service military clients, like USAA and the Andrews Federal Credit Union, have stepped up to say that they will advance pay if there is a default.

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  • by English Student Location: NC on Aug 4, 2011 at 10:33 PM
    Anonymous on Aug 4, 2011 at 09:46 PM. Did the Troops get paid or don't you know?
  • by JV Location: NC on Aug 4, 2011 at 10:07 PM
    You know whats really strange Anonymous on Aug 4, 2011 at 09:46 PM. Never writes about the news story here.
  • by English Student Location: NC on Aug 4, 2011 at 08:44 PM
    Anonymous on Aug 4, 2011 at 09:46 PM. I am not this wolfgang your are paranoid of. Use of the word jibber jabber which is really '1' word. I would not get you a ---- " A " on a term paper from my professor for the use of such slang. You can not find the word in Websters. It is Ebonics. If I used the word I would get a "F" as a student. Your quote " But, I may, given your questionable lack of self-dignity." What is sick people like you no nothing about respect or dignity. Go back and read kids stories from Arnold Munk. Go chase wolfgang you nut case
  • by English Student Location: NC on Aug 3, 2011 at 10:32 PM
    Anonymous on Aug 3, 2011 at 09:52 PM - Your use of big words you try to fool people to think you are smart? Your not! A colloquialism is a word or phrase that is common in everyday, unconstrained conversation rather than in formal speech. Some examples of informal colloquialisms can include words (such as "y'all" or "gonna" or "wanna") Is slang language. Thats all.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 4, 2011 at 06:46 PM in reply to English Student
      "English Student"/Wolfgang: This is starting to feel like stealing candy from a baby. If you were an "English Student", you would be placed in the class for developmentally delayed children, sadly. "Big words" you write? The words that I use are one that any 10th grader would recognize, much less an "English Student"... unless you are a 2nd grade "Student". You write regarding my "smartness": "Your not!". I'll resist the obvious here (to most native, literate Americans) and just laugh to myself at the irony. I'll also resist the argument of "jibberjabber" as colloquialism (thanks for looking up this term!) as it will be way over your head. If you were to meet me and look at me, saying that I know "ebonics" would even cause you to fall over in uproarious laughter. When you ask me to "learn proper English", there is no doubt that you, I, and any sober reader fully realizes who has a better command of the language; assuming you're (not "your"... "Student") delusional. As I have said too many times already on this dying thread: Wolfgang must copy and paste as he has such a poor command of the English language. He has many opinions, but sadly, he does not have the intellectual wherewithal to communicate these opinions without stealing the words of other people. Wolfgang, to continue further here would be masochistic on your part. Frankly, I don't know if I am sadistic enough to continue this abuse of your (lack of) wit. But, I may, given your questionable lack of self-dignity... The End?
  • by English Student Location: NC on Aug 3, 2011 at 08:59 PM
    To - Anonymous on Aug 3, 2011 at 09:52 PM. Additionally - Anonymous you quote Mr. T's Jibberjabber a Urban Dictionrary word. Is the word in Websters Dictionary? No! You may not be as smart as you think you are Anonymous? Jibberjabber is a Ebonics word. Learn proper English please?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 4, 2011 at 06:57 PM in reply to English Student
      "Student"/Wolfgang writes: "Jibberjabber is a Ebonics word". That would be "an Ebonics word", dear Shakespearean professor, or "Student", of the English language. LOL! You cannot write 2-3 sentences without a major mistake in writing. Your grade "Student" = an F. Copy and paste is your only option.
  • by English Student Location: NC on Aug 3, 2011 at 08:22 PM
    One of the most popular and famous children's books of all time is "The Little Engine that Could" Arnold Munk. Stop reading children books. Grow up Anonymous on Aug 3, 2011 at 09:52 PM.
  • by English Student Location: NC on Aug 3, 2011 at 07:42 PM
    What? It is typically bad form to start a sentence with the word is? Go back to school Anonymous on Aug 3, 2011 at 09:52 PM - July/August 2008 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE " Is Google Making Us Stupid? " Tell that to the writer Nicholas Carr of Atlanic Magazine who gets paid to write the news. "Is" can start a sentence. The more you post the more funny you sound.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 3, 2011 at 08:11 PM in reply to English Student
      Just stop Wolfgang. Really. You are embarrassing yourself. Do you NOT: a. understand the word "typically"? b. understand the difference between a headline and a "typical" sentence? Furthermore, you never addressed your other grammatical errors. A serious question... did you really graduate from high school? Keep digging.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 3, 2011 at 08:20 PM in reply to English Student
      Furthermore, your sentence: "Is a one word a catchphrase used by Mr. T Jibberjabber means verbal comotion, or talking in a way that annoys anyone present" is simply BUTCHERED "English". I have one word to describe your written communication style "English Student"/Wolfgang: illiterate. Look the word up. I'll say it again... no wonder you have to resort (no, not a reference to a place of respite in this context!) to copying and pasting. You couldn't put a coherent sentence together if Obama's electoral defeat depended upon it. Please stop calling yourself a Republican, for the love of the GOP. You define embarrassment.
  • by Garris Location: Washington - NC on Aug 3, 2011 at 08:12 AM
    Rebuttal to - Anonymous on Aug 2, 2011 at 10:45 PM in reply to Garris Sorry Garris, but I do not speak jibber jabber. Could you translate this post into English? It is in English Anonymous can't you read , it is not French. Your post make you look like a little kid in 4th grade! who never grew up. Now grammar police Anonymous? Get a life!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 3, 2011 at 08:58 AM in reply to Garris
      LOL at your indignation!!! ps: Your writing is still atrocious, speaking of the "4th grade"...
    • reply
      by English Student on Aug 3, 2011 at 05:11 PM in reply to Garris
      Garris " Jibberjabber ", Is not two words. Is a one word a catchphrase used by Mr. T Jibberjabber means verbal comotion, or talking in a way that annoys anyone present. It is a word found only in The Urban Dictionary.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Aug 3, 2011 at 06:43 PM in reply to English Student
        English "Student": Two very friendly suggestions: 1. look up the spelling of "comotion". 2. Look up the meaning of the term "colloquialism". Keep studying.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Aug 3, 2011 at 06:52 PM in reply to English Student
        Additionally "Student": after a comma, capitalization is not used unless in its normal and proper context. Also, it is typically bad form to start a sentence with the word "Is". Keep trying. You're like the "Little Engine That Could". Speaking of such, your assignment tonight, read this story and write a paper about it in relation to the personal history of Arnold Munk. You can do it, "Student"!
  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Aug 1, 2011 at 08:33 PM
    LOL the Invester's post is not mine. But what a roller coaster ride today for us Stock investor's Stock averages end lower but well off the session's worst levels. Monday's volatile trading period included a more than 200-point swing after a positive start for the Dow ending at 12,132.49 points. I was in a sell mode this morning to take profits? Then the US Markets turned around. I went imto a buying mode as the day went on. As a Contrarian Investor I picked up '1' stock today on the NYSE on the dip with a low P/E - I wish you all a profitable month
    • reply
      by Drew on Aug 2, 2011 at 12:26 AM in reply to Wolfgang
      Yes Wolfgang it was a crazy Stock Market Day a big up then a big down on Monday. Who is this crazy mad Anonymous or no name? AP Pays? Heck anyone with a computer can copy & paste for free or they would not have that mouse to do it. Anonymous on Aug 1, 2011 at 11:24 PM. Thank God I am a liberal and don't have those insane conservative morals and values you claim to have. Conservative Anonymous or no name or no location? People like you make liberals like me!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Aug 2, 2011 at 07:49 PM in reply to Drew
        Hi Wolfgang!!! It is obvious by the poor language and syntax that this is you. Pathetic. Again. No one but you would defend "you", LOL!!! You are not a liberal, you are Wolfgang, the fraudulent, bereft of original thought poser that we have ALL come to know and laugh at. Just stop, you fool no one.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 1, 2011 at 08:24 PM
    Fred/Wolfgang: By the way, the AP PAYS to "copy and paste", or disseminate, their stories onto other websites. Do YOU pay or get permission when you steal your "contributions"? No, you don't. THAT is the difference. You plagiarize without attribute. You are an embarrassment to conservative morals and values. Care to keep making up false names? Go ahead, I'll carry this topic to the front page so all can see your dishonesty... Exposed, again. Do you EVER have an original thought? No. You, Wolfgang, are becoming a running joke and caricature of yourself (though... you'll likely need a dictionary to decode my post into your 4th grade equivalent "language"). LOL!!!
    • reply
      by Fred on Aug 2, 2011 at 09:17 PM in reply to Anonymous
      To - Anonymous on Aug 1, 2011 at 11:24 PM - This is Fred Your quote " I'll carry this topic to the front page so all can see your dishonesty " ? I am with Garris it makes you sound & seem a little nuts? WITN's editor puts up the front page news not you Anonymous on , Aug 1, 2011 at 11:24 PM. Your want to play the copy and paste internet police. Seems nobody cares what you say or post! LOL
      • reply
        by I Disagree on Aug 3, 2011 at 05:42 AM in reply to Fred
        A thought from a neutral observer with no skin in the game: I believe that Anonymous and/or LOL! have Wolfgang absolutely figured out and is calling him out correctly. It is also obvious to me that Wolfgang does not have many ideas and uses this website to post stuff he reads on other websites and then passes it off as his own. You may be OK with this, I am not (and others are not either- as is evidenced by LOL! and Anonymous posts). I think that Anonymous and LOL! have also correctly identified that Wolfgang makes up names to defend himself on here when he is challenged. I used to respect Wolfgang as a frequent poster, agreed with him occasionally, but now I am of the belief that he is a con-artist. This is just IMO, and I am OK if you may disagree. In fact, I also think that there is a high probability that both you "Fred and Garris are Wolfgang as Anonymous stated. The poor writing is too similar and you appear to take this too personal.
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