Service members deployed to Niger, Mali and northern Cameroon qualify to receive imminent danger pay/hostile fire pay, retroactive to June 7, 2017, Defense Department announced Thursday.
The retroactive date will allow the families of Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Sgt. La David Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright to collect an additional $225 a month for the time the soldiers were assigned there. The four soldiers were killed in an October 2017 ambush that is still the subject of an ongoing investigation.
Imminent danger pay is a flat monthly payment of $225 to troops on duty outside the U.S. and subject to physical harm or imminent danger due to wartime conditions, terrorism, civil insurrection or civil war.
Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command, told House lawmakers Tuesday that his command had requested imminent danger pay for Niger some time ago, but it had not yet been approved. But DoD spokesman Maj. Sheryll Klinkel said the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness actually approved IDP for the three countries Monday.
“DoD policy provides that a service member who is involved in a hostile fire incident will receive hostile fire pay for the month in which the incident occurred, even if the location is not authorized for IDP,” Klinkel said. “Service members may not concurrently receive hostile fire pay and IDP for the same month.
“The Army posthumously authorized hostile fire pay for the four soldiers killed in October 2017.”
“Hostile fire pay and [imminent danger pay] owed to a service member at his or her death ― including any retroactive IDP ― will be included in the final settlement of pay accounts made to survivors. This would apply to payments of the survivors of the four soldiers killed in Niger,” Klinkel said.
The northern regions of Cameroon will qualify for IDP, DoD said in a statement.
To provide IDP, DoD reduced the amount of hardship duty pay for those three locations to $100 a month, down from the previous $150 a month.
Hardship duty pay-location, or HDP-L, compensates service members assigned to areas with extraordinarily arduous quality-of-life conditions.