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New incentive pay approved for Alaska-bound soldiers

The Army has approved a special incentive pay for new soldiers reporting to Fort Wainwright, Fort Greely and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, that tops out at $2,000 for single soldiers and $4,000 for those with families, Army Alaska officials said Thursday.

The “remote and austere conditions assignment incentive pay” will apply to soldiers and their families who reported after Dec. 1, 2019, officials said in a media release. It’s designed to encourage troops to volunteer for historically unpopular assignments and offset the cost of moving to Alaska.

“Preparation for the Arctic winter includes car winterization, sub-zero rated outdoor clothing, and insulated winter boots. These necessities are critical but expensive," said Army Alaska commander Maj. Gen. Peter Andrysiak Jr., in his request to Army headquarters for the pay increase.

The incentive pay could help encourage soldiers to move to Alaska, and especially locations like Fort Wainwright, which was visited last year by behavioral health specialists who studied the post’s high rate of suicides.

“The required winter gear and car winterization will facilitate outdoor activities increasing the emotional and physical wellbeing of our assigned Soldiers and Families," Andrysiak added.

Soldiers who are within the first 90 days of arrival to Alaska can request the incentive pay so long as they’re serving on active duty, in the grade of colonel or below, moving from a duty station outside Alaska, meet Army standards for retention and are not permanently non-deployable.

The incentive is paid out in a lump sum and is taxable. The amount fluctuates depending on location.

Soldiers with no dependents at Forts Wainwright and Greely will receive a $2,000 lump sum. Those at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson will receive $1,000.

Those with dependents at Forts Wainwright and Greely will receive $4,000, and those at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson will receive $2,000.

The payment is only available to those who reported to Alaska on or after Dec. 1, 2019, and cannot be paid retroactively. Army Alaska officials said they will identify eligible soldiers to begin issuing payments.

The incentive pay was one of the recommendations of an “Alaska quality of life” task force made up of experts from Army Sustainment Command, Installation Management Command, the Army Corps of Engineers and elsewhere. Those experts traveled to Alaska in October 2019 to make assessments before returning with their proposals.

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