2012 BAS Rates Released

Looking for the 2017 Basic Allowance for Subsistence rates?  You can find them here!

The 2012 Basic Allowance for Subsistence rates were released yesterday.  The new rates are:

Enlisted personnel:  $348.44, up from $325.04

Officer personnel:  $239.96, up from $223.84

These new rates reflect a 7.2% increase, which correlates with the increase in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “cost of food at home” index.

Why do officers and enlisted folks get different rates?  I have researched and researched, and I have never been able to figure out the historical reason behind the difference.  If anyone of you know, I would love to hear!

Want to know more?  You might find answers in Understand How Basic Allowance for Subsistence Works.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Matthew

    The BAS rates are different for officers/enlisted because officers make more base pay so therefore they don’t “need” as much for cost of living adjustments.

    • CDP

      I’m not sure that statement is totally true. Some enlisted make more than offers. (Senior Enlisted verses Lt’s)

      • Shelley

        Thats a crock of BS thats not true at all, all officers and cpt’s and so on make far more money and if you ever lived on a post you would see a huge difference in living quarters as well I know from experience from Fort Drum, Fort Lee, and now Fort Belvoir…..so believe it…

    • Marty

      I have to disagree with your logic there Matthew. Using your argument of the base pay being more, then an Officers BAH rates would be lower then Enlisted. BAH rates are more of an cost of living adjustment then BAS rates are.

      BAS rates are historically linked to the military’s expectation of supplying it’s members with room and board (i.e rations).

      Lyndsey- Unfortunately, your husband is incorrect. He’s right about the majority of officers not eating at the dining facilities over junior enlisted, who live in the barracks. However, those person’s living in barracks are provided room and board and as such get neither BAH or BAS. That’s why if you don’t provide a meal card at the DFAC you will have to pay the dollar or so to eat there since your being paid BAS.

      To everyone else with regard to the officer vs. enlisted and the myriad of two cent’s worth of opinions offered. I can agree with some and totally disagree with most. I’m a Chief Warrant Officer and so I walk the middle ground between the two. In some instances I’m treated as an Officer when it’s convenient to do so but in most I’m a private with a better pay check. Sure, most walking warrants are treated much better but in the largest percentage of WO are in Aviation.

      If I had to guess the difference between officer and enlisted BAS rates is probably long forgotten. Back at the start someone probably thought it should be different and the decades since have used that base starting number to add raises too and the result are the numbers used today.

      • Marty

        correction= I meant to say that in the Army the largest percentage are in Aviation…the Army part didn’t make it in the first time around.

    • ArmySoldierVA

      The BAS is going up but for some BAH is going down. Does that make sense to anyone?

      • AT E5

        BAS is accross the board, whereas BAH is based on your duty station and your rank. If the cost of living (average cost to rent mostly) in your area has gone down, then BAH will reflect the same. However if you were stationed there prior to January 1st 2012 you will retain the higher BAH amount (the 2011 rate) BAH went down for 2011 here and I retained my higher 2010 rate for all of 2011. So Don’t worry soldier, Uncle Sam’s still got your back.

        • Pay Tech

          in the USAR you are only able to maintain BAH rate protection until you start a new order. So if your current order ends on Feb 1, 2012 and you new order begins Feb 2, 2012 your BAH rate will be lower starting Feb 2, 2012. This is because a new order has started and you lose BAH rate protection adn revert back to the BAH 2012 rates.

  • SSG G

    Officers don’t work as hard as the enlisted and NCO’s either :o)

    • troytkirby

      that’s not true either. If your going to make a statement ensure it is educated and not something that holds no merit.

    • indeed

      I did some research on that and it turns out you are correct

    • ArmySoldierVA

      You have to look at it like this, If we screw up on a mission or a task the officers get the ass chewing over enlisted

      • Jim

        So, ArmySoldierVA, you are saying that you are getting compensated monthly from a potential ass chewing? And you know what rolls downhill.

        • Jim

          I say the senior enlisted E7-E9 pay should be coming pretty close to O4-O6 pay, with a some sort of “incentive pay” for command/leadership positions (1SG/CSM; BN/BDE CO).

      • Really

        As a Platoon SGT E-7 type, I got to say that the Enlisted surly do take the *** chewing for mission faliures! As for pay differences that new O-1, I have to train, out of school makes more then my E-6 that has the privilage of taking care of 10-20 Soldiers and their needs. Oh and for the comment about college degrees I have mine which makes me as smart as that Officer, and yes I did it while on the job, still no raise, still a ton of responsibility. So lets remove the poor me I had to do it while working attitudes please. We all work for our pay, and some get more benifits than others. At least were are employed. Nobody will ever be happy with the systems in place.

    • proudmilspouse

      Excuse me!! Don’t discredit all officers!! My husband is prior enlisted and served two tours for our country and is now an officer. He busted his butt to get to where he is today. Don’t tell me officers don’t work as hard as enlisted!

    • Capt James Thomas

      only someone who has not had proper leadership can say such a thing. Just because you turn wrenches my work differs from your, not knowing what type of paperwork and admin we do. Be careful with what you say

  • KateKashman

    I hear what both of you are saying, but BAS is specifically designed to pay for food for the active duty member. It is in lieu of receiving rations. So it still doesn’t make sense to me.

  • Maegan

    Officers don’t get a uniform allowance either…. plus look at officer BAH and enlisted BAH.

  • Michael

    We could go on and on about the differences in pay and allowances between enlisted and officer. For instance, Departmental LCPO’s don’t receive a bonus as Department heads do. As for BAS, officers have a mess bill that they pay monthly. Enlisted usually never see the monies because it’s already deducted for the month, whether they eat all three meals or not.

    • no becaus they are like any other person that wants to join and they have worked just a little harder than you but they were just ordinary people

  • Lyndsey

    My husband said its because most lower enlisted live in barracks which means they eat at dfac (meal deductions).. And officers typically make more money so they don’t utilize defac.

    • Caleb

      I don’t know which branch your husband is in, but in the AF you are not allowed to eat in the DFAC as an officer unless you are TDY. There are a few exceptions to the rule (Deployed locations and such) but that tends to be the rule of thumb. Regardless of BAS, this rule has never made sense to me. The DFAC is a much healthier solution that Burger King or one of the AAFES concessions.

      • SSG U.S. ARMY

        Barracks soldiers also get the majority of the BAH deducted and are often not able to utilize the dfac, there are missed meal vouchers that are a pain in the butt to submit and get you maybe 3 dollars back. Most army dfacs also give you pathetic portions.

  • AD E7

    From what I have heard in the past it was about the calorie intake required for the enlisted workers doing more physical labor and those who were not doing as much physical labor, officers.

    • Debbi

      That is an interesting theory. I had never heard that before.

    • AT E5

      That’s probably the most historically accurate sounding answer on this page. Not to mention one of the more mature posts, some of the officer and enlisted alike posting on this page really need to grow up.

  • Chappy

    Officers make more money because they are OFFICE sirs, and therefore should always stay in their office. At least that is what my CH Assitant tells me.

    • Jordan


    • Real Nurse (RN)

      You all are funny with your officer jokes! It is funny to me because from day 1 all I can remember is busting my butt to get a good education, work on active duty and another job while attending grad school full time and work 12 to 16 hours on the floor at the hospital non-stop as an RN on active duty while still having to do pt every day while all the NCO’s on our floor did 8 hour shifts and worked in OFFICES & got out of doing pt because they were “helping” the nurses! Learn what goes on in other areas before you make assumptions about OFFICERS as a whole! IGNORANT!

  • Fred Koppenhafer

    It has been years since I was involved with military pay, however there are certain understandable differences between the two groups. First, our enlisted men and women have more children dependents therefor the greater need for space and food considerations. The economic income of our enlisted personnel is considerably less than the economic income of officer personnel. In addition, there is a significant need to attract enlisted recruits and what better way is their than to provide a monitary incentive. All other opinions are welcome, but the bottom line is we need to recruit the best enlisted personnel available in order to make the overall military function opperate effectively.
    Fred ( an E-1 (MOS 1930) to an O-5 Retired)

    • guest

      you may want to rethink this. I know officers with way more kids than enlisted. Its like you are saying that officers have more control over reproduction. I don’t know what it was like for you but times have changes.

  • AT E5

    The BAH is specifically taylored to the area in whihc you are stationed. In my area an E-5 like myself who gets single BAH gets $843 a month. whereas an O-3, and I’m not sure that’s even a fair comparison since O-3 is automatically obtained in 4 years, while E-5 typically takes 5-8 to obtain. But regardless, an O-3 recieves $1248 a month in BAH. The difference in BAH alone more than outweighs the lack of uniform allowance and the $108.48 per month in BAS when calculated over a 12 month duration. Add to that the difference in Basic Pay, which for a quick example we can reference the same E-5 and O-3, considering the idea that both have 6 years of service the E-5 makes $2620.20 per month while the O-3 makes $5188.80 per month. And E-5 in 6 years is quite ambitious, while O-3 in 6 years is 2 years after automatic promotion. So the moral of my story is that any officer who truly feels the need to complain about the $108.48 difference in BAS needs to look at the bigger picture, and then themselves to decide if they are really qualified to be wearing a Commissioned uniform.

    • AT E5

      *area in which you are stationed* sorry for the typo.

      • Jo

        That’s nice for your area but as an O-1(recently pinned), my husband receives $15 more bah than an E-6 and its still $600 less than the average rent in our area which is around $1500 (thanks to people who jack it up between renters). After bills are paid, I’m stuck trying to support a family of four, including two special needs kids, on $300 every two weeks. My husband is at JRTC right now and I’m terrified for when they take that money back out because that means we won’t have grocery money for anyone when they do. Money sure doesn’t feel “better” on this side of the line.

        • pinkiG35

          That is also because usually an O1 does not have three dependents whereas an E6 does.
          Try being an E1 trying to support a family of three or four as a few of my Airmen are. There is a $1337 difference in BASE PAY. They still qualify for food stamps and WIC. Maybe you could look into some of those programs.
          If the average rent in your area is that high, maybe living on base would be better as the utilities (up to a point) are paid for.
          The SHARE program is also available on most bases, you give two hours of volunteer time and you can receive food for a discounted price once a month.
          I am sorry that you are not able to make it work but I also am sure you will not get that much sympathy when there are SO many junior enlisted that are doing way worse than you.
          -Active Duty TSgt…

          • KateKashman

            pinki, the military has a special program to ensure that no military families require food stamps. It is called the Family Supplemental Subsistence Allowance and I’ve written about it here: https://paycheck-chronicles.military.com/2010/05/2…. It provides up to $1100 per month in extra income to ensure that military folks never fall below the income requirements for SNAP benefits, and it also significantly increases the take-home pay of junior enlisted service members with families.

            I hope that you will share this program with your Airmen.

  • Bill

    There are so many items on this page that can be addressed. I’ll hit on a few.

    Each pay or allowance a service member receives needs to be considered entirely separate when comparing. The amount of BAS for officer or enlisted has absolutely no relation to base pay, or BAH. Just as BAH has no relation to base pay or any incentive pays. As to the exact reason officer BAS is lower I am uncertain. But, if I were to take a guess I would throw my hat in on the overall amount of food that a physically active person would require.

    That being said, I will accept the fact that most enlisted personnel do more physically demanding work than most officers. That doesn’t take away from the fact that most officer positions carry much more responsibility to it. Even senior enlisted have an officer over them that is responsible for duties/actions. Today’s military has many more enlisted with degrees than ever before. Most of those degrees were obtained thanks to the many programs available to military personnel. This enables an enlisted person to better their education to make themselves more marketable upon EAOS or apply for a commissioning program.

    When I was enlisted I would’ve agreed with the concept that the officer/enlisted pay scale was out of balance. Since discharging from active duty I went back to school, received a bachelors and a doctorate. I applied for and received a commission and am active duty. As much as I know I will get flack for the next statement . . . My previous belief of the pay scale discrepancy was born out of ignorance and partly jealousy.

    The amount of physical work performed is not related to the amount of pay one receives. If that were true then a foreman of a construction job would be paid less than the apprentice journeyman. Heck, the new guy on the job site should make more than the owner of the company!! Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

    I never would have imagined the amount of responsibility and work required as an officer. I certainly don’t work “physically” hard and I haven’t cleaned a head (except at home) in a LONG time. But, I have had to deal with things that I never would’ve imagined when I was enlisted and I know for a fact that most of the enlisted people I work with don’t know either. I wouldn’t expect them to because it’s not their job, it’s mine.

    • Alan

      Well put Bill. Seems many of the posters here are far removed from service and didn’t know how most of these pay systems worked in the first place. I too was enlisted and crossed over, and had no idea how much personal responsibility for both their own actions, and the actions of others whom you may have little to no control over, is placed on the heads of officers until I experienced it first hand. Officers are handsomely but deservedly rewarded for the arse pain they must endure, and every enlisted member has the same opportunity to make that leap that we had, if they covet the pay so much. Just beware what you ask for in life.

    • DanB

      Exactly! So why would a CSM call a 2nd Lt. Sir??? Would a Sr. VP at a company call a Jr. Apprentice Sir?

      Also, If an officer is so qualified why is he ALWAY’s at every level paired with a MORE experienced NCO? Yet that more experience NCO who’s put in more years of service and more than likely more deployments etc. get paid less than the one he’s basically there to mentor and teach and who without him that officer would undoubtedly fail at his job.

  • Tom Sachariason

    Enlisted BAS used to correlate to the monthly cost of the meals at the unit’s dining facility (DFAC). Prior to 1 Jan 2002, Soldiers living in the barracks didn’t get the BAS because they ate in the DFAC for free. The Soldiers that lived off-post got Separate Rations. When an Officer would go to the DFAC, he/she paid for their meal and also paid an additional amount or surcharge. The officer BAS became the amount that it would cost to pay that surcharge at each meal. The surcharge was less than the cost of the meal, so the result was a reimbursement less than the amount of BAS that the Enlisted person received. Eventually the rates were standardized and then the yearly increases were based on the cost of food, as in this year’s 7.2% increase over last years rates. The BAS rates were never intended to be equal because they grew out of a culture over 250+ years in the making that began with a huge disparity between “Gentlemen” and “Grunts.” Those things have changed greatly, but there are still lasting reminders of that separation.

  • Mike flowers

    In submarines officers have to pay for their meals which are at a low cost. Us enlisted people have an automatic deduction and it varies from 290-310. The rest of the money from everyone on board goes into a fund which the lead cook uses to order our food with. I can’t speak for surface navy or any other branches but it might be similar

  • Rayb008

    As a former Submariner I thought ‘d throw my 2 cents in here. Whenever an enlisted guy is in charge of a Sub, or say a carrier, or even an F18 then he can ***** about his pay. It all comes down to responsibility. As an NP if I order the wrong medication for my patient it’s not the tech who’s *** is on the line it’s mine. You want more responsibility, more pay….go to college…..go to OCS. Get er Done.


  • MilitaryBrat101

    The bottom line is officers’ pay reflect their education and the intellectual labor they bring to the military. Enlisted members’ pay reflect the manual labor they bring to the military. BOTH are important and valuable to the military. However, manual labor has always been cheaper than intellectual labor and it is reflected outside of the military as well. It is what people call blue collar and white collar jobs. Having spent over 10 years in the military on both sides of the fence, I wanted to add my two cents as well.

    • Don

      NOT ALL OFFICERERS HAVE COMMON SENSE !!! just becuse they have a piece of paper doesnt mean they have more education then the enlisted i have two bacholer degrees and also was a paramedic for 4 years before the navy and i now work in officer correspondence on a daily basis i know how much they get payed including special pays that are payed back for all schooling and the benifits its ridiculus the diffrence between the two

  • Mentor

    There are well educated service members in both the enlisted and officers ranks. It is a matter of preference where an individual finds comfort in the station of those ranks. If a service member is dissatisfied with the station they play within those ranks, the service member is solely responsible to change those circumstances. In or out of uniform, the successes and failures we produce in our lives are the product of our own doing. It is an indication of immaturity when an individual attempts to place blame on another for their own shortfalls. Furthermore to belittle the achievement of another’s successes is an indicator of your self-conscious insecurities due to your own inhibition. Individual success begins when you recognize your short comings, set goals to prevail over them and seek self improvement. Enlisted and officers have defined roles. If you find that you are unsatisfied in your current role, recognize that you are the only one that can have an effect on your role and take action. Failure to take action does not warrant your admission of guilt through petty comments of generality about another’s accomplishment. That type of insubordinate behavior causes a caustic predisposition amongst service members and stifles personal and professional progression at all levels.

    • Chief

      Dont compare the white collar and blue collar to the military its not fair because when the ballon goes up both collars are green. Its also not fair to compare it to labor like I have read on this page it was done a long time ago when enlisted where not going to school for whatever reason so officers went got educated and in turn recieve more money but now that the nco is educated how do you bridge the gap

    • senior chief

      This is worth reading. Well said..

  • steven

    o-1 officer compared to an e-1 enlisted makes about $1500 more in just base pay. when u add both bah and bas the officer is still making more money up to about $2000 and increses with every rank

  • Aaron Siwa

    Can I save my BAS for not using it? :) Like not eating at any military kitchen.

  • Babatunde

    I was enlisted for eight years and left with a rank of E-5 to college. Now a LCDR each time I look back my instinct convince me that anyone could do thesame. I like to encourage all to look beyond now in every aspect of what we do. The end always justify the means. But God has given each and everyone the ability to make choices. The choice we make will either help us to succeed or help us to fail.

  • John Arnhold

    Officers certainly make more in base pay. That is a fact. How much the differential is depends on where you are comparing. I’m applying for a commission right now, and as a E-6 at 10 years, the difference in pay between O-1E and E-6 is about 900 bucks. Factor in my incentive pays (about $750 a month), and the difference in BAS, the difference is really about $50 a month. Add in the difference in BAH for my locale, as an officer I would make about 100 dollars a month more based on net.

    However, once O-2 is obtained after 2 years, then I would really see the difference between E-7 and O-2E. O-3E only further exacerbates this, consider I would most likely not be a 14 year E-8 (very few and far between).

  • Carol

    It seems everyone here must be Navy, which being married to a Navy officer, the first deployment he went on I was dumbfounded to find out we had to write a check to the ship for his meals for those 6 months- it is unreal!! I think if the government can’t afford to at least feed our military members while they are stuck on a ship for months at a time away from families and protecting our country then they should leave the ships in port, all should be fed at no cost while deployed period! Then what I found absolutely crazy unfair, having a brother in law in the Air Force, when they are on the same ships they get per diem for their meals- how is that fair to treat different branches differently? The whole system is broke if you ask me, in the outside world when a company you work for wants you to move – first you get a choice and if you choose to move they pay for you to go house hunting, pay for your move and temporary housing if needed, help you sell your current home, and so much more, the military way, your going here, be there in 10 days, figure it out! And I can tell you that people are always astounded to find out that our military men and women pay the government for their meals when deployed, and those In areas that have to eat those freeze dried packets, to think they are charged for those as well, and everyone I talk to is disgusted by this- if only the American people knew the half of what you all deal with……
    And all the while the politicians in their nice safe offices with all their perks get custom chefs to cook their meals and at no expense to them!!