From a DoD press release about the 11th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation:
A QRMC survey of service members indicate that they believe combat compensation is unfair, Bush said, noting that the longer service members are in the military, the better the benefit is for them. Because they receive higher pay than junior personnel, senior service members receive more benefit from the combat zone tax exclusion for military pay. The vast majority of those under fire are junior personnel – both officer and enlisted – who do not benefit as much from the tax exemption, Bush said.
Also kind of interesting, from the “I’m-not-in-this-job-for-the-money” department:
The review found that military compensation compares favorably against private-sector pay, Bush said. Enlisted pay is at the 90th percentile of overall pay meaning it is ahead of 90 percent of comparable civilian workers’ pay. The review graphed enlisted regular military compensation against civilians with high school diplomas, civilians with some college and civilians with associate’s degrees. Service members do better than these comparable civilians at any point in a 20-year career, the study found.
Compensation, as above, is the cash-only part of it–so it includes non-taxable pay, but it doesn’t include the health care or massive retirement benefits.
Much (much) more in the full study. (pdf)