New Cold-Assignment Incentive Pay Coming for Airmen and Guardians at 7 Bases

Members of the 3rd Wing and 90th Fighter Generation Squadron conduct a missing man formation flyover in remembrance of Staff Sgt. Charles A. Crumlett at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
Members of the 3rd Wing and 90th Fighter Generation Squadron conduct a missing man formation flyover in remembrance of Staff Sgt. Charles A. Crumlett at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 22, 2024. (Senior Airman Julia Lebens/U.S. Air Force photo)

In a move aimed at incentivizing airmen and Guardians stationed in the remotest and coldest parts of the country, the Department of the Air Force has finally approved cold weather pay for troops at seven bases.

As of April 1, airmen and Guardians stationed at U.S. bases where temperatures sometimes drop 20 degrees below zero will earn the new lump-sum payment if they agree to serve at least a yearlong tour.

Locations that qualify for the incentive include North Dakota's Cavalier Space Force Station and Minot and Grand Forks Air Force Bases; Alaska's Clear Space Force Station, Eielson Air Force Base and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson; and Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

Read Next: Army Eyes Dramatic Cuts to Key Education Benefits for Soldiers

The announcement comes more than a year after passage of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which included a provision for the services to provide an Arctic incentive pay.

A defense official told in January that the military's existing programs already compensate service members serving in those areas well enough, but the Department of the Air Force went ahead with its own program.

"Airmen and Guardians living in extremely cold conditions faced unique out-of-pocket costs," Alex Wagner, assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs, said in a statement to "In addition to the assignment and retention benefits of the pay, it also comes down to making sure we do our best to take care of our service members and their families stationed at these critical installations."

Similar to the Army's existing Remote and Austere Conditions Assignment Incentive Pay, the Air Force's new Cold Weather Incentive pay program "intends to ease the financial burden of purchasing certain cold weather essentials" like jackets and other Arctic-protective clothes, season-appropriate tires, engine block heaters and emergency roadside kits, the service told

The pay ranges from $500 to $5,000 depending on location and how many dependents an airman or Guardian has. Though the program is effective as of April 1, the first pay date is July 1. If a service member moves to one of the seven locations between April 1 and June 30, they will receive the benefit retroactively, the Air Force said.

"We want to ensure airmen, Guardians and their families have the resources needed to safely live and work in an extreme cold-weather environment," Wagner said in the statement.

Notably, two of the nation's nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile bases are on the list: Malmstrom in Montana and Minot in North Dakota.

The announcement of the payment comes as the service's Cold War-era facilities at ICBM bases are being sanitized and investigated for toxins that could lead to cancer. has reported that both of those bases found levels of polychlorinated biphenyls -- a known carcinogen -- above the Environmental Protection Agency's threshold of 10 micrograms per 100 square centimeters.

Editor's note: This story was corrected to say Cavalier Space Force Station, Minot Air Force Base and Grand Forks Air Force Base are located in North Dakota.

Related: New Arctic Pay for Troops Was Passed by Congress a Year Ago. But the Pentagon Waved It Off.

Story Continues