Retirement benefits in the military differ from those in the civilian world not only in terms of their relative generosity but also in terms of the functions they perform. Retirement plans in the civilian sector are typically understood to be a form of deferred compensation—one that allows companies to recruit and retain a reliable and experienced work force, to defer some cash payments for wages and salaries, and to reward loyal employees for their work. Military retirement plans fulfill these functions as well. However, unlike in the civilian world, the military retirement system also plays a vital role in regulating the composition of the force, incentivizing long-term service for a core of experienced officers and noncommissioned officers, and at the same time offering a “separation ...

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