Pentagon rethinking cut to “danger pay” for troops in Mideast

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(CNN) — The Pentagon is reconsidering whether to end “imminent danger pay” for troops in several regions of the Middle East and Persian Gulf in the wake of increasing violence there in recent weeks, according to a Defense Department official.

The Pentagon had been considering the move, which would save about $120 million each year, the official told CNN. He declined to be identified because there is no final decision on the matter.

The extra pay, about $225 a month — or $7.50 a day — for all troops in the covered areas, has been offered for the last several years.

The Pentagon had been considering cutting the danger pay to save money. Under the initial proposal, danger pay would have been eliminated in countries such as Egypt (except for Sinai), Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well as the land, water areas and airspace around the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and the Red Sea.

Now that plan is all being rethought especially in light of the rising violence in Egypt, the official said.

Pay for those serving Afghanistan would not be affected.

In addition, the Pentagon quietly is considering whether to proceed with a planned September U.S. military exercise with Egypt called Bright Star. That exercise would send thousands of U.S. troops to Egypt with aircraft and land-based weapons.

“As we’re still in the planning phase, at this time it would be premature to discuss any specific impacts. We are keenly aware of and closely tracking the current situation, and will take it into consideration before final planning and execution of Bright Star,” Pentagon spokesman Air Force Maj. Robert A. Firman said in a written statement. “We continue to communicate with our Egyptian partners on the dates and execution of the exercise and will make a public announcement prior to the exercise.”