Special Duty Assignment Pay Changes for Some

Special duty assignment pay is verified.
PS1 Elbony Harris, NRD San Francisco personnel officer, updates and verifies the special duty assignment pay records. (MCC Grant Probst,/NRD San Francisco Public Affairs)

WASHINGTON -- Some soldiers receiving special duty assignment pay, or SDAP, now are seeing an increase in payments or seeing it for the first time, while others soon will see less.

About 4,000 fewer soldiers will be eligible for SDAP under changes announced in an All Army Activities message, ALARACT 308, dated Nov. 21, 2013. However, about 27,000 soldiers still will receive the special pay, according to Army G-1 officials.

"As the Army moves into a more resource-constrained environment, we must fully evaluate each of our compensation programs by weighing total costs and benefits of the current programs," said Sgt. Maj. Allen Clifton, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1.

"The Army regards SDAP as a valuable tool to encourage soldiers to volunteer to perform extremely demanding duties or duties demanding an unusual degree of responsibility. The decision to restructure SDAP was not taken lightly, and we spent significant time evaluating all relevant factors, with the understanding that our final decision would affect soldiers and their families."

There are six SDAP pay bands:

  • SD1 -- $75
  • SD2 -- $150
  • SD3 -- $225
  • SD4 -- $300
  • SD5 -- $375
  • SD6 -- $450

New/Increased SDAP

All new SDAP and increased SDAP changes took effect Nov. 1.

Soldiers previously not eligible but now eligible for SDAP are those serving as Rangers, E-5 and above (SD-2 or SD-4, the higher band serving with 75th Rangers); Ranger or Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leader Course instructors (SD-2); and nominative sergeants major rated by general officers or senior executive service equivalents (SD-1 to SD-4, with SD-1 serving under a one-star general and SD-4 a four-star).

Reduced SDAP

SD pay bands in parentheses reflect reductions, which take effect Feb. 1, 2014. However, if a soldier's SDAP level was reduced to an amount that is less than 50% of their current SDAP amount, then that soldier is eligible for the half rate for 12 months.

SDAP will decrease for non-commissioned officers assigned to the recruiting force (SD-4) and White House support activities (SD-1 to SD-4, depending on duties and assignments).

Other reductions are for squad leaders and platoon sergeants serving in warrior transition units (all SD-3). Also reduced are Criminal Investigation Division special agents (SD-2), technical escort unit soldiers (SD-2), air traffic controllers (SD-2) and foreign attaché NCOs (SD-1 to SD-2).


SDAP will remain at its current level for soldiers serving in certain special operations units (SD-2 to SD-6) and for command sergeants major rated by general officers or SES equivalents (SD-1 to SD-4, with SD-1 serving under a one-star general and SD-4 a four-star).

Eliminated SDAP

No SDAP will be awarded to soldiers assigned to the Defense Courier Service, On-site Inspection and Defense Threat Reduction Agencies, or to those serving as career counselors, transition NCOs, and those assigned in recruiting support functions above the battalion level.

Terminations of SDAP will take effect Feb. 1, 2015. Partial termination of SDAP will take effect Feb. 1, 2014, when SDAP will be reduced by 50%.

SDAP Eligibility

Enlisted soldiers are eligible for SDAP when one or more of three conditions are met:

First, the duty is physically, psychologically and/or cognitively extremely demanding; second, the duty carries with it a greater-than-normal degree of responsibility for the soldier's rank and experience; and third, the duty requires special qualifications that are met through rigorous screening or special schooling.

Additionally, those eligible for SDAP must meet all of the following four requirements:

First, the soldier is on active duty receiving basic pay or is a reserve-component member on individual duty training and entitled to compensation under Section 206 of Title 37.

Second, the soldier is serving in pay grade E-3 or higher.

Third, the soldier has completed the special schooling or equivalent on-the-job training required for the SDAP assignment.

And fourth, the soldier is certified as qualified for and actually is serving in an authorized duty assignment designated for the award of SDAP.

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