Non-deployed drone crews may get tax-free combat pay

| June 24, 2022

I’m sure drone operators work hard. They fly very long missions and are not given any of the glory of any of the other rated aviation billets. Their morale has been a subject of debate before, so the Air Force created a medal especially for them. The Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal is for those non-deployed flyers performing operational missions in-theater.

Now, while they get to work CONUS, go home to their families, sleep in their own beds every night, they might get the tax-free combat pay that troops deployed to overseas locations, away from all the comforts of home, receive. With none of the personal risk. A drone operator will never die in combat.

From Military Times;

New legislation aims to give drone crews tax-free combat pay

Military drone crews could soon receive the same tax-free combat pay as deployed troops, under a pair of bills slated for release Wednesday.

Service members who fly remotely piloted aircraft or operate their surveillance and targeting sensors don’t qualify for untaxed income because they largely wage war from installations in the continental U.S. rather than in combat zones like Iraq or Somalia.

Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., the legislation’s sponsors in the House and Senate and members of their respective Armed Services committees, want to fix that.

“Warfare is increasingly conducted stateside, yet drone crews engaged in active combat situations are not recognized as having served in combat by the military and therefore do not receive benefits or care commensurate with their service,” Blackburn said in a release.

“These servicemembers experience similar stressors to their colleagues who are physically overseas and see similar horrific events play out, and deserve to be treated as such,” she said.

It’s worth noting that none of the three sponsors are, themselves, veterans.

Category: Air Force, WTF?

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

It is only a matter of time before an opponent realizes how effective it would be to target the drone operators, and comes up with a way. Note that this is likely to involve hitting them away from their well-secured consoles, thus likely hitting all sorts of noncombatants.

-then- they will truly be earning that “combat pay”.


We’ve already had f*ckers over here going jihad on soft targets for no reason beyond that… now there is a military reason. Bet that the Chicoms and Russkies are thinkin’.


Military: “You have choice, you can be deployed to the theater of operations, where it’s hot and dangerous area but you get tax free combat pay. Or you can stay in CONUS and fly a drone, sleep in your own bed and see your family every day.”
Me: ‘I’ll take the drone.”
Military: “But you won’t get tax free combat pay.”

[Edited to remove PII -Mason]


Disability compensation can be granted for conditions that are
exacerbated by military service.
Hemorroids come to mind…..


Disability, and/or injuries is one thing. Combat, I’m told, is very different. I may have service related disabilities, and had one of those rare live wartime mission jobs which ran full time during peacetime, but NONE of that was combat.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Hemorroids can be a real pain in the ass.

RGR 4-78

And a shitty situation.


Bison Bagels! It’s called Combat Pay for a reason.


Sounds even sillier than Somalia, 1993. We were authorized hazardous duty pay, but weren’t eligible for tax free status because it “wasn’t a combat zone”. Meanwhile, at Camp Doha, Kuwait…


Same for us in Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy 1994 – 95. We got HDP but not CZTE because Haiti wasn’t a “combat zone.” We did have one KIA while I was there.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Same for us during Op Power Pack 1965 (Dominican Republic)


Yup. I went to the Haitian Vacation on Voodoo Station too. I was on an amphib up north. Got the HDP, but that was it.


UN mission in Liberia, too– HDP because it was dangerous (tons of child soldiers who’d raped people or did war cannibalism, and still uncivilized AF) but no CZTE as it was a peacekeeping operation.

Last edited 1 year ago by Anonymous

2 Minute video well worth watching…. 😆  😎 

Anyone else see the resemblance between this short clip and That Movie That Shall Not Be Name Part 2?

“Drones:The struggles of Drone pilots in wartime, serving their country on the ground, sitting at their computers”



Just in case no one knows what we speaketh when we state “That Movie That Shalt Not Be Name Part 2”:

Another 2 minute video in honor of Mason and the AF and the Drones. We just could not resist…. 😉  😎 

Smooches to AW1Ed and Mick…Report for Duty, KoB!!



Aw, there were no PT belts… ;(


Present but not accountable, Ma’am. Was on Escort Duty today. Please tell me our tax $ DID NOT pay for this. Any airedale that doesn’t know where and where not to be around an aerial artillery platform danger zone, needs to have their goose cooked and be sent to a place where there is plenty of ice, man. Good news is, if the terestial field is blocked that thar C-130 CAN land on a floating aerial artillery parking lot.

gabn/rtr/hbtd  🇺🇸 


AW1 and Mick are gonna come git you!!!

(Giggle, Giggle, Giggle..)

Swabbies are SO fun to mess with…




No skin in the game, no combat pay.

When will DoD start handing out awards for valor to drone pilots and cyber”warriors”?


If I played Call of Duty in a combat zone….does that mean I was entitled to DOUBLE combat/HDZ pay?

Pay up, F ckohs!

jeff LPH 3 63-66

I wonder if I can do the same playing Silent Hunter and Silent Hunter Pacific but my Gateway laptop went on me and I bought a reconditioned one and hopefully the PC guys can get it to play one which calls for windows XP and the broken laptop used Vista which one of the games was compatable with. these games were made in 2005 and 2015. I was on a thread with how to do the game on windows 10 but it had to do with graphics which I won’t fool around with so I’ll just wait for the new/old laptop to be ready. I think I went off on another tangent AGAIN.



not sure if you are kidding about the games but I do play Silent Hunter Wolves of the Pacific on a Windows 11 PC without any problems. I think the only thing that you will need to do is to install Directx 9c. If you have the game CD, Directx 9c is part of the install process.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

The wolves of the Pacific worked great with the broken gateway laptop which had windows Vista but I couldn’t get Silent Hunter 111 since it worked with windows XP and not Vista. Gateway couldn’t be fixed so I bought another lap top and the tech at the PC store is going to try and get both games working in the same laptop. My regular PC has windows 10 and there is a way to go into the graphics to get SH 111 working but I would rather use the laptop. I used to spend hours going after convoys in Wolves of the Pacific so maybe thats why the laptop screen went south. Have to run, PC repair guy just called and laptop is ready for pickup

jeff LPH 3 63-66


Just got back with new/used laptop and now can use SH 111 and Wolves/Pacific. Will try it out later. Thanks for the info and reply


Good hunting sir


Stupid should hurt – those who are stupid, not our real in the shiite warriors.
Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., are Schmuck-tards.


I’m surprised at Blackburn, but I guess as an election gets closer, the instinct to be reelected overcomes every other instinct.


CZTE is intended to compensate those service members who deploy to harsh, austere, dangerous and remote locations not for “stress.” Holy hell, if “stress” was the only requirement every staff officer or NCO who worked at the Pentagon would likely qualify, amirite? 😉

Prior Service

It’s true that drone pilots face a high degree of personal stress. I’m not convinced (that is, not at all) that they warrant combat pay. The main problem with the article is that they don’t differentiate between Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (which is not paying tax on any pay earned in a combat zone), or receiving combat pay and not paying tax on only that benefit. That’s a significant difference. Should drone pilots get something? Maybe. Should they get combat pay or combat zone tax exclusion? %*}* no!



President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

By show of hands, who did NOT see this “participation award” coming? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?


Welp, this is apropos, REMFs that identify as frontline combat warriors get combat pay for sitting in a chair in an air conditioned room in a “safe space.”


OK, found this:

You can earn the combat zone tax exclusion by serving in:

  • A declared combat zone from a Presidential Executive Order
  • A hazardous duty area as defined by Congress if you also receive hostile fire or imminent danger pay
  • An area, certified by the DoD, that directly supports military operations in one of the above areas if you also receive hostile fire or imminent danger pay

So looks like number 3 makes the chair warriors the lucky winners of free dough. Also, fixed this statement, “Warfare is increasingly conducted supported stateside.”