- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday announced increased payments to help personnel cope with surging house rental prices
- ‘This is a readiness issue,’ he said after dire warnings of increasing inflation
- Last week, the Department of Labor said prices had risen 6.2 percent in past year
- The issue has emerged as a test for the Biden administration as it plans trillions of dollars in new spending
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday warned that rising prices for housing and food were affecting the readiness of U.S. armed forces.
Inflation has emerged as one of the biggest issues facing the Biden administration, as ordinary Americans complain about the price of everyday items – from gas to bread.
During a Pentagon briefing, Austin said he was temporarily increasing payments to help troops pay for off-base housing in places where rents had increased by 10 percent or more.
This is a readiness issue, and that’s why I’m focused on making sure that our service members and our families have what they need to thrive,’ he said.
Last week the Labor Department revealed that prices were rising at their fastest pace in more than 30 years.
It said prices had increased 6.2 percent year-on-year.
Austin said troops already had enough to worry about and that ‘basic necessities like food and housing shouldn’t be among them.’
But Feeding America, which coordinates the work of food banks around the country, estimates that up to 160,000 active duty military members struggle to feed their families.
Austin said he had given the undersecretary for personnel 90 days to develop a longer term strategy.
In a memo, he also said the Department of Defense should examine other measures to improve stability for service members, such as extending tour length in some overseas locations when they are accompanied by family.
And it said the Pentagon should take steps to improve financial education and counseling for troops.
The impact on force readiness is just the latest example of how inflation is worrying Washington.