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SAS get 50% pay rise to halt quitters Print

The Sunday Times - August 06, 2006

DEFENCE chiefs have increased the pay of the SAS and other special forces by 50% in an attempt to cut defections to private military companies, writes Michael Smith.

The increases, recommended earlier this year by the armed forces pay review body, were seen as crucial when the special forces are stretched by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Security firms operating in Iraq and elsewhere are prepared to pay up to £100,000 a year for soldiers who have served in the Special Air Service or the SBS, its marine equivalent.

The increases have seen an SAS trooper’s salary rise from about £25,000 to just under £40,000, while a sergeant’s pay climbs from £32,000 to £50,000 and a major’s from £50,000 to £70,000.

Members of the SAS and SBS who have finished their 22 years’ service and would normally have to retire are being offered short-term contracts to stay on, one source said.

The new contracts to keep the “older, wiser heads” or bring them back, range from one to five years.

“A number of the guys who had left at the end of their 22 years have signed back on,” the source said. “They’re mainly senior NCOs and warrant officers whose experience is frankly invaluable.”

However, the increases may result in calls for pay parity for other frontline units such as the Parachute Regiment which are also seen as part of the elite.

The Ministry of Defence refused to comment, but one official confirmed that the special forces had been given significant pay increases as a result of the latest pay review.

He insisted that “their activities continue to be a strong draw for exceptional people”. 

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