4 Scary Ways Terror and Immigration Are Tied Together

By Peter Huessy – FOXNews.com

Our own immigration system is so riddled with holes that terrorists can drive into our country in an explosive laden truck just like the Times Square bomb suspect did.

We can only hope that the Times Square near-bombing will focus our attention on the conventional wisdom surrounding from the left surrounding immigration reform. First there’s the belief that no attempt at reform can succeed without a generous amnesty. Then, there’s the belief that immigration “coyotes” and other scam artists do not associate with terrorists. And finally, there’s the misguided belief that our relatively open border with Mexico, and thus by default the rest of the world, is no big deal, and can be resolved through the simple act of issuing more work visas.

In my own conversations with experts on immigration, the drug cartels and terrorism, it has always been an article of faith that while drug cartels certainly use illegal immigration as a conduit for smuggling drugs, terrorists are not welcome among the coyotes that smuggle migrants and vice versa. But that is changing.

In the laptop captured from a top FARC commander, evidence was found of links between Chavez and Russia (from where weapons and explosives would come and be transferred) and Hezbollah and drug syndicates (where FARC would help Hezbollah blow up pipelines carrying Mexican oil for America).

I’m not concerned about the links between terrorism and immigration because it’s the issue of the day. And it’s not because Arizona has passed legislation that enables local and state law enforcement to actually “enforce” a 1940 federal statute dealing with whether legal residents but not citizens of the U.S. have to carry “papers” (they do). Nor am I focused on it because the Senate is, once again, considering bringing up “compressive immigration reform.”

No, the events that have made me even more concerned about immigration are four-fold.

1. Dozens of bomb plotters in attacks on the United States have used the immigration system to marry women here in America and thus gain citizenship faster and with less scrutiny than they otherwise would. This includes the bombing suspect arrested for attempting to blow up people in New York City and Times Square, a point made eloquently and most recently by Michelle Malkin.

2. In 2008, I testified before the Maryland State Assembly that driver licenses should not be given to those illegally in America. Remember Muhammad Atta had a driver’s license and when stopped in North Carolina for a traffic violation, the local police officer could not access immigration records to determine that Atta was here on an expired visa.

After testifying, I remained outside the hearing room and listened to a local Montgomery County representative to the Annapolis Assembly being interviewed by Mexican television about the oppressive nature of such a law as forbidding those illegally in the U.S. from getting driver licenses. She told a Mexican television reporter that there was really no such thing as an illegal immigrant: “They are all here simply waiting to adjust their status.”

3. Then there is the news that Syria, probably via Iran and North Korea, has transferred Scud missiles to Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based terrorist subsidiary of Iran. Remember, Scud missiles used to be what we thought about when thinking about missile threats from Saddam’s Iraq and Kim’s North Korea. It appears everyone has graduated—Kim to long range rockets and Hezbollah to Scuds!

4. Finally, there’s the likelihood that Iran will get a nuclear weapon and transfer it to a specially created and trained terror group to smuggle it into the United States. Open borders make that an easier job. Scam marriages do too.

So, here we are congratulating ourselves for capturing the Times Square suspect when our own immigration system is so riddled with holes that terrorists can drive right across our borders in an explosive laden truck and with a driver’s license secured in any number of states blind to current threats. And we congratulate ourselves when our supposed potential peace partners, with whom were are so eager to engage, are either sending rockets to terrorists or building nuclear bombs destined for an American city.

Why then are Washington elites hell-bent on approving amnesty provisions as a part of what is known as “compressive immigration reform?” What part of “terror-sponsoring state,” “terrorist,” “open borders” and “bomb” do they not understand? And what do we make of the common complaint that we only wish to secure our borders and make our immigration system synonymous with “common sense” because we are a racist country inhospitable to ethnic groups other than “Anglos?” God, has anyone who claims this actually walked around any American city recently? Amnesty is objectionable because the person who gets to decide whether or not 16 million estimated illegal immigrants get to stay in this country are the illegal immigrants themselves!! They are, of course, “just adjusting their status.”

Speaking of the millions of people already here illegally, David Broder quoted the late Senator Kennedy as being dumbfounded about why people could not understand why the illegal immigrants already here in the USA had to stay here. The assumption: we cannot send them home or they will not go home. And so if they wish to stay here in America, well, they get to stay here. And if jihadists intent on blowing us all to kingdom come, want to come here from rural Pakistan and marry an American citizen—well aren’t we all in favor of multiculturalism? (Parenthetically, what skills are we adding to the American workforce by such an immigration policy?)

Immigration policy is now, by default, no longer a question of whom we as Americans desire to accept into our country. It has become a question of who wants to come to America whether we like it or not. And that is why so many citizens of this country are supportive of the Arizona law and against the amnesty provisions of past immigration reform laws. We want our sovereignty back. We want to decide who gets to be future Americans—because we value American citizenship and believe it should not simply be given away, either through amnesty, sham marriages or some wacky notion of multiculturalism. And we care who comes in and out of our country. Especially if they are armed. Armed with a bomb. Or a nuclear weapon. Feeling safe?

Peter Huessy is Senior Defense Consultant at the National Defense University Foundation.

Faisal Shahzad Was Blogging On Terror Websites Since 2006 But Obama Administration Took Him Off Terror Watch List Anyway

by Jim Hoft

Earlier this week it was reported that the Obama White House removed confessed terrorist Faisal Shahzad from the Department of Homeland Security travel lookout list sometime after Barack Obama came into office.

Terrorist Faisal Shahzad had substantial connections to the Taliban, reached out to the Taliban, was influenced by Yemeni terror leader Anwar al Awlaki, made at least a dozen return trips to Pakistan since arriving in the United States in 1999, and he bought a one way ticket with cash to Pakistan.

Now we find out that he was “blogging” and asking for jihad as far back as 2006 but that the Obama Administration took him off the terror watch list anyway.

To be clear, Shahzad was actually commenting on terrorist websites and not actually blogging.

Earlier this week it was discovered that Shahzad was posting on terror websites since 2006.

FOX News reported:

FoxNews.com has uncovered several dozens of postings by a man named Faisal Shahzad on radical Islamist Salafist websites devoted to a variety of different jihadist sects.

Experts suspect this is the same Faisal Shahzad whom authorities have charged with plotting to explode a massive car bomb in New York on Saturday. If so, then he has been educating himself on the Internet for years on the legitimacy of holy war.

Shahzad visited numerous websites devoted to ideological discussion of Islamism and Shariah law. His apparent online posts date back to at least 2006 — three years before the Times Square suspect became a naturalized American citizen.

“If the person on these websites is indeed the suspected bomber, the postings show that he was intellectually thinking about engaging in jihadism for a few years,” said Dr. Walid Phares, director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Knowing that, the ideology of jihadism often has inspired violence and terrorism…

“These can be coined as Islamist Salafist websites where lots of material is posted, including theological, ideological and political texts and blogs,” Phares said, noting that he saw discussions about fatwas, jihad and other Islamist causes on these sites.”

As Walid Phares said in an interview on FOX and Friends earlier in the week, Faisal was no lone wolf:

“When a guy makes a phone call, he’s no longer a lone wolf. A lone wolf is somebody who doesn’t tell anybody else about the issue. He doesn’t share that information. He made phone calls… He may be deployed as a lone wolf. It is much easier to send one terrorist as 10 terrorists. But, he is not alone with conducting terror.”

If the Obama Administration removed a guy like Faisal Shahzad from the terror watch list sometime after 2008, just what does a guy have to do to make Team Obama’s list?

My Fellow Muslims, We Must Wake Up!

By Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser- FOXNews.com

We, Americans, especially American-Muslims, must show Islamists that their ideology is beyond being simply ‘dangerous,’ or ‘violent.’ It is in fact treasonous and punishable as a capital crime against the state as an act of war.

When will the United States learn that our current behavior and lack of a coordinated existential strategy since 9-11 is obviously not working? As a devout and concerned American Muslim working tirelessly against radical Islam and its root cause of political Islam, I thought the Fort Hood massacre would teach us that. It did not. Witness the Pentagon report blind to ‘radical Islam’. I thought the Christmas bomber would tip us toward the battle of ideas, but nothing. And now on May 1, naturalized American citizen, Faisal Shahzad, is the next in the growing line of homegrown radical Islamists. And again the immediate fallout in the media, government, and academe is still one mostly of denial, dismissal, and fear of even mentioning the real theo-political battle we face against political Islam.

Whether Shahzad ends up being connected to a militant jihadist Pakistani Islamist network or not, he is obviously not a “lone wolf”. The ideas that drove him to act did not hatch de novo in his own mind. We cannot ignore the common ideology, the common malignant virus of the slippery slope of political Islam that takes over these growing number of Muslims.

The cases of homegrown Islamist terror mount week after week since 9-11 with a frightening uptick in just the past year. Yet, we are still ignoring the writing on the wall as we remain suffocated by political correctness and a willful blindness to political Islam and its common pathway of radicalization.

Our American Muslim organization, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, has been shouting from the rooftops at every opportunity since 9-11 that the enemy is obviously not a tactic of terror or even those who are generically “violent extremists.” As devout Muslims who are anti-Islamist we feel that Muslims have to lead the war of ideas against political Islam (Islamism) from within devotional Islam. Islamists have a well-established transnational global network of entities hatched from Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots. Whether we care to admit it or not, Islamists are at war intellectually and kinetically with western liberal democracies.

While the Hasans and Shahzads of the Islamist movement target Americans, most Islamists globally actually target moderate Muslims who are their greatest existential threat as Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pointed out this week. Attacks against our citizens are a symptom of a much deeper disease- one that will do anything to prevent true reform that can bring Islam and Muslims into modernity, into an understanding of the central need to separate mosque and state.

Islamists like Shahzad want America out of their way so they can spread their supremacist ideology of political Islam. They indoctrinate some Muslims that their goal of an Islamic state and its shar’iah law is superior to our Constitutional republic. Meanwhile, other Muslims who do not believe in the Islamic state, are either ignored or silent.

We must also be resolute as a nation in how we handle these traitors if we are to deter future acts of aggression in this war. The actions of Faisal Shahzad were a calculated and deliberate act of treason. Shahzad’s cowardly attempt to kill innocent Americans in Times Square demonstrates that his loyalty lies with the Islamist radicals and not his chosen countrymen in the United States. His citizenship oath was given falsely in 2009 and was in the direct service of powers at war with the United States. His prosecution should encompass the gravity of those actions. No different from Hassan Abujihad convicted in 2008, Nidal Hasan, and other Islamist traitors, Shahzad if guilty is an enemy of the state and should be immediately legally treated as one.

Whether we declare it or not, the United States is at war with the ideology of militant Islamism. Islamists are not afraid to call for the complete destruction of the principles that built our great country. The United States cannot afford to be timid in our response to their actions. We, Americans, especially American Muslims, must show Islamists that their ideology is beyond being simply ‘dangerous’, or ‘violent’. It is in fact treasonous and punishable as a capital crime against the state as an act of war. Our founding fathers knew how to articulate the values of liberty over theocracy. Where has that American penchant for the defense of religious freedom and liberty gone?

Our elected officials and leaders must show true ideological leadership if we are to ever begin the long process of ridding ourselves of the scourge of Islamist terrorism. We cannot cower to victim-mongering American Islamist organizations that thrive on keeping us on the defensive and from addressing the very real Islamist threats to our security. Platitudes that only condemn violence and ignore ideology are an obstacle to needed reform.

Our leaders must wake up and engage in the global war of ideas and demonstrate that the rule of one law that protects universal religious freedom (Americanism) takes precedence over the Islamic state. America in fact provides the best atmosphere for Muslims to practice our faith and it is long overdue for American Muslims to also wake up and empower honest reformist Muslims to declare the ‘Islamic state’ dead. We will never slow down the recurrence of Islamist terror against our citizenry until such a movement from Muslims against political Islam is palpable.

M. Zuhdi Jasser is the President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix. He is a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander. He can be reached at zuhdi@aifdemocracy.org.

Subsidizing Terrorism with Welfare Handouts!

by Dan Mitchell

Here are some very depressing stories showing that bloated welfare states funnel money to some rather disreputable characters – even when governments uncharacteristically try to do the right thing.

The Daily Mail reports that a European Court has ruled that the U.K. no longer can impose restrictions on welfare payments to women married to suspected terrorists:

A European court has instructed Britain to drop restrictions which limit social security benefits paid to the wives of terror suspects. Ministers imposed tight rules on payouts to stop the money falling into the hands of alleged Al Qaeda fanatics. Under the restrictions, cash payments were strictly limited and families had to show receipts to justify every penny of spending. But yesterday the European Court of Justice said there was no danger of the handouts being used to fund terror and branded the measures unlawful.

Unfortunately, this story is not an isolated incident. Here’s a report from the Express about a Muslim cleric who collected welfare from the Brits while (to put it mildly) being a reprehensible slug: “The twisted cleric provoked outrage by comparing British troops to Nazi stormtroopers and telling parents of dead soldiers that their children had died in vain. …Choudary, a former lawyer…rakes in more than £25,000 a year in welfare handouts.” And CNN reports that, “Since the mid-90s, London has been a haven for foreign jihadi preachers, organizers, agitators and propagandists, many of them recipients of generous welfare benefits.

And here’s a BBC report noting that: “In November 2000, Mr Kaplan was convicted for incitement to murder and sentenced to four years in jail. Since then, intelligence reports say his followers have become even more devoted to Mr Kaplan, considering him a martyr for the cause of Allah. …Mr Kaplan is believed to have a fortune worth millions. Nonetheless, he claimed social benefits in Cologne for many years until 2m Deutschmarks (1m euros, £700,000) in cash was found in his flat. This Mickey Kaus blog post has more nauseating details.

The most amazing story comes from Australia. Here’s a Youtube copy of a report showing that Aussie taxpayers gave $1 million of welfare over 19 years to an Islamic extremist who planned to kill thousands of innocent people.

Obama, Karzai to Mend Fences During Afghan Leader’s Washington Visit

n this May 6, 2009 file photo, President Obama, accompanied by Vice President Biden and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, makes a statement in the Grand Foyer of the White House (AP)

If the best part of breaking up is making up, then Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s visit to Washington next week should be a doozy.

After publicly feuding for months with President Obama over his leadership in Afghanistan, Karzai will work to recast his image as a mercurial leader prone to outbursts against the West into one of a credible partner worthy of the thousands of U.S. troops and billions of dollars of aid still pouring into his nation in its ninth year of war.

The two will meet Wednesday for Oval Office talks. Then they will hold a joint news conference, have lunch and later dinner at Vice President Biden’s home.

If Karzai’s successful in the visit, which starts Monday and ends Thursday, the Afghan president will leave Washington with renewed legitimacy and the political backing he needs for possible peace talks with the Taliban.

“Meetings with President Obama and U.S. Cabinet officials will reinforce the long-term and vital partnership between our two countries in areas ranging from security to governance and economic development,” Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week.

The trip comes at a critical juncture in the war. At the same time that more troops and aid are moving into Afghanistan, the U.S. has made it clear that its involvement is not open-ended. Obama, who gathered his national security team to discuss Afghanistan and Pakistan on Thursday at the White House, wants to start pulling out troops in July 2011 if conditions allow. That’s 15 months from now.

Karzai is traveling to Washington with nearly a dozen members of his Cabinet who will hold in-depth discussions with their counterparts about development priorities and other issues. Showing up with these ministers — many with strong backing from the international community — will help Karzai make the point that while bribery and graft is rife in some ministries, there are many Cabinet officials committed to progress and reform.

The meetings will end with a communique, but a renewed strategic partnership agreement being drafted in Kabul and Washington won’t be ready to be signed until later this year.

Karzai is going to Washington as the 30,000 U.S. reinforcements Obama dispatched to the war continue to stream into the country. About 4,500 have deployed, with another 18,000 due to arrive by late spring and the rest by early fall. The military buildup is aimed at routing the Taliban from their strongholds, especially in the south, and bolster security needed to start development projects and offer public services so Karzai’s government can win the support of residents.

But the U.S.-Afghan relationship has suffered in recent months from friction between the two nations. The U.S. is pressing Karzai to reform his government and reduce corruption. Fed up with years of foreigners meddling in his government, Karzai is demanding respect as the leader of a sovereign state that is anxious, but not yet able, to take charge of its own affairs.

“The president of Afghanistan wants frank discussions — frank discussions — about things that can be improved,” Karzai spokesman Waheed Omar said.

The White House nearly cancelled the meeting last month following a remarkable outburst from Karzai.

After Obama visited Kabul in late March, Karzai lashed out against the U.N. and the international community, accusing them of perpetrating a “vast fraud” in last year’s presidential polls as part of a conspiracy to deny him re-election or tarnish his victory — accusations the U.S. and the United Nations have denied. Two days later, Karzai told a group of parliament members that if foreign interference in his government continued, the Taliban would become a legitimate resistance — one that he might even join, according to several lawmakers present.

First, U.S. officials called the remarks “troubling.” After a few days, U.S. officials worked to smooth over the rift by expressing sympathy for Karzai and the pressure he’s endured and repeatedly referring to him as “commander in chief” of his country. Even if the U.S. believes Karzai is a flawed leader, it cannot afford to alienate him because he is key to a successful American exit from the war.

Karzai, however, is not likely to be coddled by U.S. lawmakers currently deciding whether to approve the Pentagon’s request to spend $192 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the next year and a half — $33 billion of it for Afghanistan. Members of both parties bristled at Karzai’s tirade against the U.S. last month and he’ll need to earn back their trust.

World Cup welcome: A billion condoms and 40,000 sex workers.

South Africa estimates 40,000 prostitutes will arrive in the country for the World Cup in June. Here, prostitutes wait at a bar in a plush northern suburb of Johannesburg, Aug. 22, 2002. (Juda Ngwenya/Reuters)

Soccer fans to storm South Africa, hoping for scores, in more ways than one.

By Iva Skoch — Special to GlobalPost

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The taxi drivers hustling around the bars on Long Street in Cape Town say they are ready for all the soccer fans that will flood the city in June for the World Cup. So are hotels, restaurants, breweries and, inevitably, prostitutes.

Arguably, the soccer World Cup is to the sex industry what the holiday season is to candy shops. A temporary surge of excited people feeling collectively festive, willing to pay for a bit of extra indulgence.

South Africa’s Drug Central Authority estimates 40,000 sex workers will trickle in for the event from as far as Russia, the Congo and Nigeria to cater to the wide taste spectrum of some 400,000, mostly male, visitors and their apres-soccer needs.

Henry Africa, 49, drives a taxi in Cape Town and, aside from the usual airport pickups and winery tours, he also operates the “Bright Red Tour,” which he expects to be a hit among soccer fans. For the equivalent of 500 dollars, he’ll shuttle customers from strip bar to strip bar all night and even bring them over to a safe-sex practicing prostitute, a relevant selling point in a country where one in five adults are estimated to be HIV positive.

Over the years as a cabbie, he says he has seen it all: men hoping to try sex with someone HIV-positive, men getting drugged, beat up and robbed because they thought they could find what they needed on their own.

“If they don’t know where to go, they can end up in trouble,” said Africa. “What people pay for is safety.”

Safety has remained the main keyword here, a month before kick off. Hosting the prestigious world soccer tournament is the country’s first post-apartheid chance to be in the global spotlight for news other than that associated with South Africa of the last two decades: out-of-control crime, an immense gap between the rich and the poor, racial tensions, staggering AIDS rates and presidential eccentricities. It is South Africa’s chance to finally shed its infamous label of an unsafe tourist destination, a tag so despised by locals.

On April 17, in an article titled “Enough already — stop dissing this fantastic country,” the author Carol Lazar sums up the sentiment in the newspaper Star. “The hype overseas whether or not South Africa is a safe country to visit is the biggest waddle around … Enough now from these assholes oversees who spread doom and gloom,” she writes. “Visitors to South Africa, whether they come for the World Cup or just to holiday, will have the experience of their lives.”

It’s no surprise South Africans are defensive about outside criticism. The country has worked hard to show off the “new South Africa” to the world. It has been promoting the marvels of ethnic diversity and advertising its national parks. It’s built brand new stadiums, renovated airports, repaired roads and installed free condom dispensers. But the country realizes none of it will matter unless it can provide the one thing everyone is focused on — safety.

All nine South African cities hosting the games have increased police presence in strategic areas. The Cape tourism board issued a code to try to curb sex tourism. Children around the country are being educated about the dangers of World Cup-related sex trafficking. AIDS awareness campaigns have been launched.

Even President Jacob Zuma — himself a polygamist, father of at least 20 children and an infamous condom skeptic — isn’t taking any frivolous chances with the World Cup. During his official visit to the United Kingdom in March, he asked the government to supply 1 billion extra condoms to South Africa before the upcoming tournament.

In the view of many, this was seen as a progressive move from a president who doesn’t exactly lead by example. Just last week, Zuma announced his HIV tests came back negative, although he has admitted to having unprotected sex with women other than his four wives. Others rolled their eyes at South Africa shooting itself in the foot again by promoting itself as a country that encourages sex tourism and prostitution.

Either way, Britain responded by sending 42 millions condoms, a number sufficient to supply almost every citizen of South Africa with one condom or every tourist expected to travel there with one hundred. Still, some fear that exposing so many rowdy soccer watchers in such a high infection-risk area might result in an increase of HIV rates upon their return to Europe.

A Congolese prostitute, who goes by the name “Scarlet” and works on Long Street, arrived here last month and will stay in Cape Town for at least a few months or maybe permanently, “if God allows,” she said. She wears a black tank top with the logo of Bafana Bafana, the name of the South African national soccer team, “The Boys.”

Work has been slow, she said, but she’s hopeful the World Cup will change that.

“White men like black women,” she said proudly about the anticipated wave of soccer fans in search of exoticism.

Scarlet says she uses condoms most of the time, unless men pay her extra to not use one. “Men don’t like condoms,” she said.

Most do, however, like soccer.

Pentagon asking Congress to hold back on generous increases in troop pay

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Staff Writer

The Pentagon, not usually known for its frugality, is pleading with Congress to stop spending so much money on the troops.

Through nine years of war, service members have seen a healthy rise in pay and benefits, with most of them now better compensated than workers in the private sector with similar experience and education levels.

Congress has been so determined to take care of troops and their families that for several years running it has overruled the Pentagon and mandated more-generous pay raises than requested by the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. It has also rejected attempts by the Pentagon to slow soaring health-care costs — which Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said are “eating us alive” — by raising co-pays or premiums.

Now, Pentagon officials see fiscal calamity.

In the midst of two long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense officials are increasingly worried that the government’s generosity is unsustainable and that it will leave them with less money to buy weapons and take care of equipment.

With Washington confronting record deficits, the Pentagon is bracing for an end to the huge increases in defense spending of the past decade. On Saturday, Gates is scheduled to give a “hard-hitting” speech in Kansas on fiscal discipline, in which he will warn military leaders that “we’ll have to take some dramatic measures ourselves to sustain the force we have,” his press secretary, Geoff Morrell, told reporters.

Clifford L. Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel, told a Senate committee in March that rising personnel costs could “dramatically affect the readiness of the department” by leaving less money to pay for operations and maintenance. Overall, personnel expenses constitute about one-quarter of defense spending.

Health care alone is projected to cost the military $51 billion next year, nearly one-tenth of the Pentagon’s budget, excluding the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2002, wages have risen 42 percent, compared with about 32 percent for the private sector. Housing and subsistence allowances, which troops receive tax-free, have gone up even more.

But Congress — including members opposed to the wars — has made clear that it considers military pay and benefits sacrosanct, especially when service members and their families are struggling to cope with repeated deployments to faraway conflicts.

“Both sides of the aisle are trying to send a very clear message to our military that we appreciate their service,” said Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of its military personnel subcommittee. She said the Pentagon needs to do a better job of setting priorities. “We end up with a false choice — are we going to fund weapons or are we going to fund people? The reality is, we need both.”

The Pentagon’s attempts to rein in personnel costs have also run into opposition from powerful lobbying groups. “Any attempt to link rising military personnel costs with shrinking military readiness is total nonsense,” Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., leader of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said in response to Stanley’s comments in March.

Advocates for troops and retirees say the main reason for the increase in wages is that they were way too low to begin with. In the late 1990s, after the military had been whittled down in size from its Cold War peak, studies found that service members earned about 13 percent less than workers in the private sector with similar experience and education levels.

“We’ve been recovering from that ever since, plus we’ve had a decade of war, which has created a tremendous national sympathy,” said Steven P. Strobridge, a retired Air Force colonel who serves as director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America. “We’re extracting sacrifices from today’s forces that are just unprecedented.”

Military officials said generous compensation packages were a primary reason they were able to meet all of their annual recruiting goals last year for the first time since the all-volunteer force was established in 1973. Although the recession also played a major role, military leaders said surveys show service members are generally happy with their pay scales.

Under current scales, an average sergeant in the Army with four years of service and one dependent would receive $52,589 in annual compensation, a figure that includes basic pay, housing and subsistence allowances, as well as tax benefits.

Vice Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III, the chief of naval personnel, said improvements in pay and benefits have made it more likely that sailors will stick around longer. Last year, a Navy survey found that about 60 percent of spouses wanted their sailors to make a career of Navy life, meaning a stint of at least 20 years. In 2005, he said, only about 20 percent of spouses felt the same way.

“I think pay was previously a concern, but it’s started to change,” Ferguson said. He added that Congress had been “extremely generous” but that rising personnel costs were already influencing what the Navy spends to operate, maintain and modernize its fleet.

The Pentagon wants a pay raise of 1.4 percent for service members next year, an increase based on the Employment Cost Index, which the Labor Department uses to measure private-sector salary increases. Congress, as it has for the past several years, has indicated it favors a slightly bigger bump, of 1.9 percent.

Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the extra half of a percent may not sound like much, but it would accrue annually and cost about $3.5 billion over the next decade. “If you continue doing it, it becomes a huge burden on the defense budget in the long term,” he said.

Other well-meaning programs to support service members and their families have turned into budgetary Frankensteins.

In February, the Pentagon abruptly shut down a new tuition-assistance program for military spouses after it was overwhelmed with applicants. Defense officials had set aside $61 million for the program, which reimburses tuition costs of up to $6,000 per person, but discovered they might need as much as $2 billion to satisfy unexpected demand.

Congress chastised the Pentagon for mismanaging the program, which has since resumed, though defense officials aren’t sure how they will pay for it.