At Your Service
For and about Hawaii's military

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Sunday, October 14, 2001

See also: For Your Benefit

U.S. Central Command
requests that Afghanistan
be declared a war zone

U.S. Central Command officials have asked that Afghanistan, its airspace and the seas near it be declared a combat zone. Service members participating in the attacks on the al-Qaida terror network and Taliban military targets would receive $150 per month combat pay and be excused from federal taxes for the month.

Afghanistan is already an imminent danger zone, so U.S. service members already qualify for $150 per month imminent danger pay.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye believes the decision to base C-17 Globemasters at Hickam Air Force Base will speed up the time it takes to deploy soldiers to Pacific hot spots and is needed to fulfill the Army's desire to become a more reactive force.

Inouye, a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, said: "We need to do this because without the C-17, the transformation of the Army can not be implemented. These troops have to deploy fast and you can not do that without the C-17."

Earlier this year, the Army announced its plan to transform into light rapid deployment force over the next decade. Included in the initial planning stages are soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks.

Eighty Marines from Marine Forces Pacific have been sent to Egypt to participate in Bright Star -- the largest multination military exercise in the world. Military forces from eight other nations -- France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Spain and the United Kingdom -- will also participate. Bright Star 01/02, the 11th in a series, started Oct. 8 and will run through Nov. 1.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is advising all FHA-approved lenders to reduce mortgage interest rates to no more than 6 percent for military personnel on active duty, including reservists being mobilized for the war on terrorism, under the terms of the 1940 Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act.

Reservists and Guardsmen on active duty should immediately contact their lenders to take advantage of the mortgage rate cap, officials said. The law's relief provisions apply to existing debts when members come on active duty. The law has no effect on debt incurred while on active duty.

Mortgage lenders also are being asked to postpone principal payments for all service members during their activation and for three months thereafter. However, the loan must have existed before the member came on active duty. The relief act also provides renters some protection against eviction as well as the ability to terminate their leases during the recall period. Service members with questions can call 888-297-8685 for assistance.

Pay raise for federal employees may have been helped by an agreement reached by President Bush and congressional leaders to increase spending by 8 percent from last year. The federal government is now operating under a short-term spending authority, and the compromise should speed approval of the 13 annual spending bills. None has cleared Congress.

The spending bill for the Treasury Department, Postal Service and general government operations carries a provision mandating a government-wide pay raise of 4.6 percent for civilian employees. A salary hike for the military also appears headed for approval. Bills approved by the House and Senate would raise the pay of enlisted personnel by at least 6 percent and officers by at least 5 percent.

The increase in military pay fulfills Bush's pledge to add $1 billion in January to pay for the uniformed services. For civil service employees, Bush proposed a 3.6 percent raise, the increase called for under a federal pay formula.

Moving Up

Kalaeloa: Lt. Col. Bruce Olivera to assume command of the 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Brigade, relieving Lt. Col. Mark Logan.

Gregg K. Kakesako can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at

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