WASHINGTON -- Soldiers being stationed in Alaska can now receive up to $4,000 to help offset the initial cost of items needed to live in the “Last Frontier” state.
The one-time, lump-sum payments -- called Remote and Austere Conditions Assignment Incentive Pay, or RAC-AIP -- will be given to incoming Soldiers and those who arrived in Alaska after Dec. 1. The payment amount depends on the duty station and if the Soldier has dependents.
Single Soldiers heading to Forts Wainwright and Greely will receive a $2,000 payment, while those with dependents will get $4,000. For those heading to Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, the payments will be $1,000 and $2,000, respectively.
The payments, which are taxable, are intended to help Soldiers and their families buy cold-weather clothing and prep their vehicles for the harsh Alaskan environment.
"Preparation for the arctic winter includes car winterization, subzero-rated outdoor clothing, and insulated winter boots," Maj. Gen. Peter Andrysiak, commander of U.S. Army Alaska, said in a news release. "These necessities are critical, but expensive.
“The required winter gear and car winterization will facilitate outdoor activities, increasing the emotional and physical well-being of our assigned Soldiers and families.”
Quality of life
The incentive pay was recommended after a quality of life task force -- which included experts from Army Sustainment Command, Installation Management Command, Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Army -- spoke with leaders and Soldiers at each of the installations in October.
One of the challenges frequently brought up was paying for those essential items, which may also include car engine-block heaters, new tires and emergency kits.
“When we went up there, we sat and listened to commanders, we listened to Soldiers,” said J.D. Riley, deputy chief of the Army G-1’s Compensation and Entitlements Division. “We dug into it a little bit deeper and we clearly found an issue that needed to be addressed.”
During the visits, some Soldiers told him they had to use their credit card or advance payments to cover the costs of the winter items.
The incentive pay will help prevent Soldiers from using those payment options that would otherwise cut into their future paychecks or compound interest.
“Those are the things you have to pay back. Obviously that’s going to lower their monthly income,” Riley said in an interview on Monday. “But if you [place] them in a high-cost area like Alaska, we want to make sure that we’re not putting them in that position.”
There are currently more than 11,000 Soldiers assigned to USARAK.
Andrysiak said the pay “will drastically improve the quality of life” for Soldiers and their families. It could also encourage other Soldiers to volunteer for difficult-to-fill assignments in the state, the release said.
To qualify for the incentive pay, Soldiers must meet the following criteria:
- Must be serving on active duty
- Must be in the grade of colonel or below
- Must be permanently assigned to Alaska from a previous duty station outside of the state
- Must be within the first 90 days of arrival to Alaska
- Must agree to serve the prescribed tour length (36, 24, or 12 months)
- Must have not previously received RAC-AIP during the current tour or a previous tour within the last six years (Soldiers who extend their tour or agree to serve a consecutive overseas tour in a subsequent RAC-AIP assignment are not eligible)
- Must be in good standing and not under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice process (to include Article 15 or courts-martial proceedings), investigations, and must meet Army standards for retention (to include Army Physical Fitness Test and Army Body Composition Program) at the time of approval and must remain in good standing throughout the AIP tour; and
- Must not be permanently non-deployable
For more information about the inventive pay, click here.