Air Force to send ‘Arctic Pay’ to most of its Alaska-based service members

A file photo of a A-10 Thunderbolt II at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. (Anthony Nelson Jr./U.S. Air Force via Getty Images)

The Air Force announced Tuesday that it will provide incentive pay to active duty personnel based in cold locations, including Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage and Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks.

Single airmen assigned to JBER for at least a year are entitled to a lump-sum payment of $1,000. Those with a spouse or children at home are entitled to $2,000. And those figures are double for airmen based at Eielson.

The money is intended to compensate service members for the cost of warm coats, snow tires and other cold weather gear needed to be comfortable and safe in Alaska weather.

Service members based at Clear Space Force Station are compensated at the Eielson rate, which is higher because it’s colder there.

First payments in July 

The Air Force says it will issue the first cold-climate incentive payments in July. The program is authorized through 2026. Airmen at certain locations in North Dakota and Montana are also eligible.

Congress created the incentive in 2022, at the urging of Alaska’s U.S. senators. Sen. Lisa Murkowski dubbed it “Arctic pay.” It was one of several measures aimed at tackling a mental health crisis among Alaska-based troops. But the Defense Department resisted implementation, saying it would be redundant to incentive pay for remote locations, which applied to a small percentage of airmen.

The Air Force term for the payment is “Cold Weather Assignment Incentive Pay” or “AIP-CW.”

The Army already had a similar bonus for Alaska-based soldiers.

Related stories from around the North: 

United States: ‘Arctic pay’ among the perks Congress is sending to improve military assignments in Alaska, Alaska Public Media

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

For more news from Alaska visit Alaska Public Media.

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