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Military's TRICARE for Life program set to begin Oct. 1; leave limit eased in wake of tragedy.

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RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 9/24/2001

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With the pace of operations rising to challenge terrorists, sea service officials are expected to press harder for a delay in startup of the $100-a-day ITEMPO pay. Set to begin Nov. 5, the pay is a kind of speeding ticket that the services must pay if they fail to heed operational strain on individual members.

Members will be eligible if away from home ports or permanent duty stations for more than 400 days of the last two years. Payments, once begun, continue until the rolling count falls below 401 days away out of the previous 730.

Service secretaries can make exceptions to limit ITEMPO eligibility. Officials worry, however, that such actions could block payments to persons who deserve them most, like members of special operation forces who deploy often.

Navy officials appreciate the goal of ITEMPO pay, to improve management of personnel and avoid burn out. But the service wants ITEMPO delayed for a year or two to allow time to assess its impact, including whether the 400-day threshold is reasonable given the size of the fleet and current pace of operations.

TOM PHILPOTT is a syndicated columnist who has covered the military for more than 20 years. He welcomes your comments and suggestions. Write Military Update, Box 1230, Centreville, Va. 20122-8230, or e-mail milupdate@aol.com.


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