Air Force to send ‘Arctic Pay’ to most of its Alaska-based service members

an Eielson Air Force Base F-16
An F-16 takes off in 2014 from Eielson Air Force Base. (Peter Reft/USAF)

The Air Force announced Tuesday that it will provide incentive pay to active duty personnel based in cold locations, including Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage and Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks.

Single airmen assigned to JBER for at least a year are entitled to a lump-sum payment of $1,000. Those with a spouse or children at home are entitled to $2,000. And those figures are double for airmen based at Eielson.

The money is intended to compensate service members for the cost of warm coats, snow tires and other cold weather gear needed to be comfortable and safe in Alaska weather.

Service members based at Clear Space Force Station are compensated at the Eielson rate, which is higher because it’s colder there.

The Air Force says it will issue the first cold-climate incentive payments in July. The program is authorized through 2026. Airmen at certain locations in North Dakota and Montana are also eligible.

Congress created the incentive in 2022, at the urging of Alaska’s U.S. senators. Sen. Lisa Murkowski dubbed it “Arctic pay.” It was one of several measures aimed at tackling a mental health crisis among Alaska-based troops. But the Defense Department resisted implementation, saying it would be redundant to incentive pay for remote locations, which applied to a small percentage of airmen.

The Air Force term for the payment is “Cold Weather Assignment Incentive Pay” or “AIP-CW.”

The Army already had a similar bonus for Alaska-based soldiers.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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