At Your Service
For and about Hawaii's military

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Sunday, January 13, 2002

See also: For Your Benefit

Brig. Gen. Agena
assumes command of
Hawaii Army National Guard

Brig. Gen. Clarence "Mert" Agena assumed command of the 3,000 member Hawaii Army National Guard yesterday, replacing Brig. Gen. James Carpenter.

Carpenter had been commander of the Hawaii Army National Guard for two years. He will become a member of the Army's Individual Ready Reserve program to keep open the possibility of promotion to the post now held by Maj. Gen. Dennis Kamimura, who is expected to retire later this year.

Agena also will continue his job as assistant adjutant general under Maj. Gen. Ed Correa.

Hawaii's military will see fatter paychecks this month, with noncommissioned officers receiving the highest boost -- up to 10 percent -- under the provisions of the 2002 National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Bush on Dec. 28.

The military calls it the largest pay increase in 20 years. Last February, Bush pledged an additional $1.4 billion to go toward pay raises for service members. Without this money, service members would have gotten a 4.6 percent across-the-board increase at the start of the new year.

In general, officers will see their pay increase 5 percent, and enlisted service members get a 6 percent boost in their pay beginning Jan. 1.

Enlisted members in grades E-5 and E-6 will see an average 7.5 percent increase, E-7s an average increase of 8.5 percent, and up to 10 percent for E-9s.

Certain lower-ranking grades also will see increases that have nothing to do with percentages or retention, but to fix inequities in the pay table. For instance, on the 2001 pay table, an E-3 with less than two years of service would make more money by going more than two years in service as an E-3 than by getting promoted to E-4.

Housing allowance rates have increased as well. In 2001, military members not living in government-provided quarters paid an average 15 percent of their housing costs out of their own pockets. The Pentagon is working to ensure the basic allowance for housing covers all of a member's housing costs by 2005. This year, for instance, members will pay 11.3 percent of their housing costs out of pocket on average. Housing allowances are tied to actual housing costs in a given geographic area, so some areas are getting larger rate increases than others.

Hickam Air Force Base will begin issuing the Department of Defense's new "smart card" identification cards this spring to active-duty Air Force, selected reservists, civilians and eligible contractors.

The new common access card is a plastic card about the size of a credit card and will contain an integrated circuit chip, linear bar code, two-dimensional bar code, magnetic stripe, color digital photograph and printed information. It will eventually replace the standard military identification card. The goal is have all eligible persons issued the smart cards by October.

However, the new card will not be issued to family members, retirees, disabled veterans and members of the inactive reserve and National Guard. They will retain the current card.

Distribution of the new card began last March with select service members and DoD civilians working at Pearl Harbor and Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawaii receiving test versions. The Hawaii Air National Guard will begin issuing the new cards next year.

The Hawaii Military Surfing Ohana will host the International Military Surfing Championships Jan. 19-20 at the Waianae Army recreation Center. All branches of the military participate and members of foreign services have participated in the recent past.

Moving Up

Hickam: Maj. Gen. Steven R. Polk to Pacific Air Forces vice commander. Polk is now head of 19th Air Force in Texas.

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

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