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380AEW Article

BRS: It’s the final countdown (da da da daaa… Da da da da daaa)

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Darrion Browning
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing
U.S. service members are undergoing one of the most comprehensive changes to military pay and benefits since the 1994 enactment of TRICARE, a military health care system.

In an article released by U.S. Central Command, nearly 1.6 million service members will have the option to opt into the Blended Retirement System or remain in the current “High-3” retirement system.

“BRS enrollment will affect a majority of the service members on Al Dhafra Air Base,” said Lt. Col. Marcus Jackson, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Financial Management comptroller. "To some it may be difficult to understand at first, but by doing your research in advance will ensure you make an informed decision."

The legacy “High-3” retirement system calculates benefits by multiplying years in service by the average of the highest 36 months of base pay times 2.5% (i.e., 20 years x $5115 x 2.5% = $2557.50). The Blended Retirement System, in comparison, blends traditional aspects of a defined benefit pension plan with matching government contributions of up to 4% by way of the Thrift Savings Plan.

“What it comes down to is, are you going to stay in the military for 20 years,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony Layman, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Financial Management financial services technician. “If you only plan on doing four years, getting your college degree, and getting out; the legacy system isn’t going to do much for you.”

As of Dec. 31, 2017, uniformed service members with fewer than 4,320 retirement points or less than 12 years of service are grandfathered in under the legacy “High-3” retirement system; however, retain the option to elect BRS enrollment until the end of 2018. Anyone else entering the uniformed service on or after Jan. 1, 2018, will be automatically enrolled in the BRS.

“There’s only one real disadvantage that I see when you think about being deployed during that timeframe,” said Layman. “That’s the fact that at ADAB we don’t have a personal financial counselor on base.”

Understanding your time-in-service is crucial and what’s equally paramount are the proper steps that need to be taken to prepare for life after your military service commitment.

“There are a couple different places people can go for information,” said Layman. “There are different online spreadsheets that act as calculators which will determine long term entitlements. There are also some articles that break down what you should know about BRS located on,, and”

Continued in the U.S. Central Command article, officials emphasized that the decision to opt-in is irrevocable. Prior to opting in, it is recommended that service members take advantage of all available resources to assist in making an informed decision.

Layman added, “In order to use the resources accurately you have to put some thought into where you’re going to go with your career, what rank you plan on making it to, how long you’re going to stay in and the types of contributions you plan on making during that time period.”

The decision to opt-in or out of BRS lies completely on the service member; however the Department of Defense and the Air Force will ensure service members have the tools and resources to make an informed decision prior to the BRS deadline.

For additional information and training go to:

(Information from a Department of Defense and U.S. Central Command article was used in this story.)