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MILITARY AIMS IRE AGAINST PROPOSED RETIREMENT CHANGES

With Congress poised to pump billions more into the Pentagon budget you would think military men and women would be happy. You would be wrong.

An obscure provision in the Budget Reconciliation Act, now moving through Congress, would change the way retirement pay is calculated for senior enlistees and officers - for the worse. In most cases the move would result in a 3 percent to 5 percent cut in their pensions, but it could be as high as 8 percent."We cannot continue breaking faith with the men and women who are serving our country," the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a sternly worded letter to Congress. "Commitments must be kept."

The proposal affects the roughly 335,000 enlistees and officers who joined the force before Sept. 8, 1980 - about 20 percent of the total. Under current law, they can retire based on a percentage of the pay they are receiving on their last day. The new proposal would calculate their pension based on an average of the last 12 months' pay.

The generals and admirals called it "blatantly unfair and unwarranted."

The new rules could save taxpayers $649 million over the next seven years. But the Pentagon argues that military personnel will simply delay retirement long enough to secure a higher pension.