Proposed Federal Income Tax Exclusion for Civilians Serving in Combat Zones

Proposed Federal Income Tax Exclusion for
Civilians Serving in Combat Zones
Updated January 10, 2008
Pamela J. Jackson
Specialist in Public Finance
Government and Finance Division



Proposed Federal Income Tax Exclusion for Civilians
Serving in Combat Zones
Summary
Legislative proposals have been made to extend the combat zone income tax
exclusion to civilian employees who are on active service in a combat zone. Under
present tax law, the designation of an area as a “combat zone” confers tax benefits
only to military personnel serving in the combat area. No comparable provision
under present tax law provides tax relief for civilian or contract employees serving
in combat. However, certain income tax exclusions exist for U.S. citizens who work
overseas. As an example, the proposed combat zone exclusions in the Federal
Employee Combat Zone Tax Parity Act (H.R. 1974 and S. 1166) would grant added
tax relief to federal civilians who are not eligible for existing exclusions.
In the case of extending an exclusion to federal civilian employees or civilian
contract employees serving in a “combat-type” zone, the primary issues revolve
around the purpose of the extension, which has not been stated by proponents. The
purpose could be to provide additional compensation for certain individuals serving
in combat and thus facilitate recruitment for such work. Alternatively, the purpose
could be one of equity, to make civilian employee benefits equal to those of the
Armed Forces.
If the purpose of the extension is to provide additional compensation to
individuals serving in combat, than a question of efficiency arises as to whether a tax
subsidy is more appropriate than a direct payment. Direct spending programs are
often more successful at fulfilling policy objectives than indirect subsidies made
through the tax system.
If the purpose of extending the combat zone exclusion to civilians is to make
civilian benefits equal to those of the Armed Forces, then the distinctions between
military service and civilian employment become important in the analysis of the
policy. In that context, it has been observed that military personnel cannot resign
when facing danger; they cannot refuse assignment; they are considered to be on duty
24 hours a day, every day; and they may be required to work until thjobns id zonn
ithas ct scieffax rnsatishipon to compensaticy.Wethrseat military personnemuxise
ert fmto thosn dircesl civilian employeey ma foy maann,he spendintion fos wmde
theo wor fog the contras/> thes havnegotpriad,y; and rpose contras/> coulstilumade
erersonnrk. soes, tmorerthe distinctions betweel civiliaDODan employeee and civilian
contraorsIn that emicriate ery issne of eciaznsaticyn
overseas. breliee dcussstion of theosssrablx
pansstion on income tax exclusily tg Governmenl civilian employeee in a combax


='Conteits
exclusils ol IncomEarndded bM militarP personne> Serving in Comba...1al
exclusils ol IncomEarndded br U.SC citizenAbroada.................208
proposaln forh dan...............................................308
policArgumenentttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt4al
efficienctttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt4al
efficien:s. additionaC compensation tI individual> Serving in Comb..5al
equi: Am zgne Tt p pettttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt6al
equi: Am zgnI individual> Serving in Comb......................7es
i emicaritttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt11al



Civilians Serving in Combat Zones
under present tax law, the designation of an area as a “combat zone” confers ta>
only to military personnel serving in the combat area. No comparablr
provisio> under present tax law provides tax relief for civilian or contract employeee
in thg Governmeat. However, certain income tax exclusions exist for U.S. citizenn
to wor> overseas.T the tax lnesct sciqualhrsuitmene oearndden incom>ithtaiwarax
rposgeriodsig in thpasn,ha numbnfis osuggquerme;h daneawtmoroffider,lstilumnding thx
extensios oe combat zons tax benefitn to federal civilian employee(a ae proposeiian
Employee Combat Zone Tax Parity A)74 ann
pandin income tastinmectiven to federal civilian employe;n; anthan analysis of tho
civilicls serving in combat zoh:te ery income Exclusio> provision foo militare
erersonn,a; and thy income Exclusio> provision for U.S. citizens worvin> overseasl
exclusils ol IncomEarndded bM militarP personnes
Serving in Combas
inancd thentraitmene od thR, enssny Ace o1913,1idulan oimpousione om militaryaare
whes servina as war graroffrviver foe
In the case ol cmissstiidaoffrvivces, teexn eiatioamoutants limitdded
te erhighque rriate obasicryaarf fonn/enialiida>erers, pxclin themoutane o rptileon


1i38 Stmbat114.p>

fire/icmiponeng dangryaarn than thoffrvivldirectivne.BaposetioFY2007ryaarrriaces, tee
frvivle Exclusiowas limitdde> t$6,381a>er/m zhe.2ie
tobserce in a combat zoes, tee
3ie
!A activn dutyaarearndden onny/m zheon rlline service in a combax
!Icmiponeng dang/ rptile firetyaacye
!Aldienialioymentoncli(w then thvolutaitar> extensiosrldienialioymene
cchoure in m zheoobservee in a combat zo)cye
!Paarf fonccrurvele havw theearndden onny/m zheoobservee in a combax
!Paardirectidaf fon dircna as membnfae of the Armed Forclg inlubcese
!Awardsnt for ggqueusio,lstvnteie ser fosficitieffaachi, emenenvw thee
tme tt p pen madeheor ggqueusien rllinn m zheo, wloss serving in s
!Stcadmenloaiodit paymeserr sucs as rposdirectidafrwmdtheee
progr,nn thae
eestoributarably t, theeriodis os service in a combat zones
litaeey ma foy maann adoeist federaappcen riven fodeAltmiprving income tax
ithaaain income tas havx lsof extending ths
litaees havx Legislaoned that rrorsIn est federaapprovisiso, wlosohethe>litaenent tax lenn
litin,ig in thslitaos oMwhiigaioalnem militaryaare
er/m zhe.4ie
exclusils ol IncomEarndded br U.SC citizenAbroadas
overseas.T u as e proposed civiliae combat zone exclusio) woulw provion


2iU.nd SDeompAitmene oDefxtee, Offrviae of thSeirolitare oDefxtee, websitdp>
3iU.d SDeompAitmene of thT aasury,. AlterlhR, enssnS servi,in Publslaone3:he Armed Forcnens
only t> individued
4iMaj foRil;chd W. Roclersu, a ̶> Upda:/Tax B benefitf foM militarP personnee in n Combas


t addee taxaerviit> only tf the exttr> oversery personneltlfia Host federae taeeaftnder
to wor> oversehs
undeSeinctiS9 2ee of th AlterlhR, enssns
eee primilyef fog eIg bederae xiss oliervinabroadere
hether U.S. citizenn
pxtent rivcyn
oobvederaftraors,isncome on
onlompAce oh the tayeares, the> onlompAce oh the Exclusios
5ie
eeusurlonlexn eistrwmdn feesige taecyn
proponened byoinistiny tf thdiffidenorclg in the xiss oliervinandin income tarriacoe
pxricieer> oversea6i.T tsomdiffidenorclg ie xiss oliervincaefusg ths
ithaedtmeicrlin incoee> tlctinandio worg in thUnidate>litaens.
individual> worvin> overseoy maftrerhighdn feesige taeerg i, whice caerg thn feesigs
pxtsecy.F fog rposn individual>hon> pxricieere
proposaln forh dans.
sdiremenn ngressacesr proposalwtmorn made tmodafyod thy income tax exclusied
ta alytn to federal civilian employeen emplodns in combat zohcy. Id th110thie
Employee Combat Zone Tax Parity Act (H.R. 1974 and Se
pandif thcurrnmena Armef Forcld
sd th109thin ngress,i (H.R294 e proposee to Excadafrwmdgrosson incoms
7ie
provision fooembnfere of ton


5iU.d Sn ngress,iSenitaoC cmitte be og thBudgebate Tax pxtent riv:aC compdiumee od
individu/> provisis,ol cmitte be pntesr eompdded bf tosup>thosup>ndie

0, 24)sr. 27cy.n
6iIbidcye
7iOhethex Legislaonei sd th109thin ngressct (H.R848) e proposee to n eisf y > individue(overe


he Armed Forces, whicellowli, teexn eiatiof fonlney incomearndden onny/m zheog ths
n eiatioamoutanso has noe to Eeedrg thmaximumeamoutane fornialiida>erersonnrk.
proprveleLegislaonei sd th108thin ngress,i (H.R11774 an (H.R1133,lstilumdded
employeesfiDODas serving in combat zohas. itmdmenenvwereag proposee tn
worving in l combat zon8ie
policArgumenenas
tl civiliaDODa>erersonn,abutonhethee proposals have been madg in thpasnon tha) wouln
exclusion to civilial contraorscy.T u ,in the analysig in icls inctiSd
exclusioysiddo federa> subsidn thanhrsuson incoms
een emplodcy.Yehan thraditioneef fog ieat militars tax benefnn
hasaposetioahe derade treducein ths taxurdeione om military personnen rllinwmpAime,9ie
efficiencs
eeusosee totinur'pa/s more actadyee tha) wouln

7i(...l coinssd)Sd
individuee anhis/ethe>pouso)strwmdn income tef fog eIe
individueobsereef fonny/impousiis os hicyear s on active Armed Forclx
service in a combat zong iIraqty.F fon example, iuee proposo) wouls havellowidaa membnfan
pousoere
8iI sd th108thin ngressoobvederar proposalwtmorn made tmodafyod the combat zone income tax
exclusiotaiwayit>hethee thaf extending th> provision to civilia>erersonnrk.F foin>litin,id Se
Exclusion fol cmissstiidaoffrvivcrk.S. 2824 e proposee to Excadafrwmdy incom, certain
gyeee anself-n emplitmenn income o>pousosme omembnfere of the Armed Forclf fonny/e
9iU.d Sn ngress,iSenitaoC cmitte be og thBudgebate Tax pxtent riv:aC compdiumee od
individu/> provisis,ol cmitte be pntesr eompdded bf tosup>thie

0, 24)sr. 15cy.n

abtstcensasfirseg thwanena; anaeedere oefitompAicipanenaifen rkefit>eeritaofreoafrwmde
litinces; anel comffaf efficiency matraurlonlbome i prdded bf Tae dimpousiocye
wn,eftilonn tellocitate sourinsox
efficitlicy. IompAiculartyn rkefoontnsainction> eein> efficit w then thn rgindued
eelivsrg ahen thn rginduee xiscy.M rkefeftil rivey may bduade taav Partyee od
litincesstilumnding thr prescose of exterlilirsee and cmtiodisourinsesr Publid
ertirecl comtiditi,a; a/ fonsymmetrbliohestincamptaon t fmnsatin10ie
If t eeiseaen rkefeftil rin; antee tax subsidremedirseg afeftil ries, then t eeisex
l comffajuxiaficnsation foeheor subsidbecaefuse oefitf efficiencgrtasne.Butor a tax
exclusioisex
l comffahetoryor ggquesrn than thf efficience om stcn tastinmectivelg abthe
potee, fodegreoae od
potee, bardiripienenae oh the tastinmecticy.Yeh,od the combat zone income tax
exclusiothas noe desiosee tcaefusa/re>potee, r sucs aotinur'pudi/s morn individuald
tobserce ic combat.In>leaderg th> provisioiclsi emynthan additionax benefndirectidabare
In the case of extending an exclusion to federal civilian employees or civilian
contract employees serving in a combat zoes, tee primary issues revolv> around thd
could be to provide additional compensation for certain individuals serving il comban
could be onn
efficien:s. additionaC compensation t.
individual> Serving in Combas
If thstextAce oh the Exclusion is to provide additional compensation to
individuals serving in combat, ehan a question of efficiency arises as to whether a tax
subsidy is more appropriate than a direct payment A/> subsidynrg thn fmon of ad
individualdiffidentliasaposeupe og tirihoclehoouln
subsi,hyehan flucieesoefitvalssns
l comfsas/> conside, iuein> efficitat.D Direct spending programdoas nox
stexteeanv Painanctaix benefns.
In the case of thc combat zoon income tax exclusi,nthan Alternati/> subside
could be tn i aasoon incom>arndde, wlose ic combat.E exampsse of existinn incoon


10iF foo moreeAtilodns t fmnsatioaboutgm rkefeftil riv,nsoyeeRSoRitmpoIRL32162,.T thSazaan
Governme:/>l comffaI issu, barM rc Labotex.p>

ct subsidien fol cbthan Excadahazchdoclin dutyaarandincmiponeng dangryaan11ie
i aasoeng i zoo foo more of tfusgyppsse on incom> cou,nhowowevers haved overin
ftireonbyan i aasnding thl xiss oe appropriusisst foo militart spendins.
equi: Am zgne Tt p pes.
ult,an thsacome tastinmectielg aaftire/t tt p psediffidentlicy.M rrirmen individuald
eesvailarab),o, wlossllile fil psewtmor44.6%es; an12i.T tsomdiffidenorclg ihoclehooull coosiditi,a;l zgn>ithae
Exclusionrwmdt taeie oi i aasoen>ithae
individuetain
individuetaithehe
13i.T thlowisi-paida>erersonn,abecaefuse ocurrnmen>erersdued
n eiatiserg th>litdchd d duciatioamoutaes; anohethet federae taapprovisisor sucs ae
wouls not benefngrrsulyefrwmdf a> Exclusicy.T rposgerssiso(s narayNo cmissstiidan
Exclusicyn
revaoclvely, t eeiseaelimitbe og themoutane oh the Exclusion foe

11ieHazchdoclin dutstinmectieyaariseavailarabln fooembnfere of tSe Armed Forcl> t>ert fmte
certain dircesstilumndinompachutivn du, flighnoe ckvn du, demolieusien uity, xffafuelsn(oder
opellanen)en uitye and certaiohethhcy. cmiponeng dangryaariseaet sciquarriate oyaarf foe
st fmidas servics who art sjire/to rptile firet fon plolusioe o rptile e
hancmiponeng dangre obeudi/> poposee t rptile e
on dutn onmn feesign areg i, whic, t ee> han
urrncditi,ac civ/wavere
12iAues impodded bf t. AlterlhR, enssnS servi,iwebsitdp[a ht://www.ihhcgov/pub/ihh-soi/0>
001in53us.xls],/rovidated Januar910, 26cy.n
13iT the exampse aumesrn than thd duciatiodoohas nod oprtheet tt p peini te ernexn lowiras


iT thinAlternaonerae taapprovisison that benefnr U.S. citizens worvin> oversermaare
civilicls serving in comb,abutos noalral civiliaas. Aynteie idar
evaoclvelyo federal civiliany cannot benefntrwmdtheh$82,400aiiincome tax exclusi,ne
exclusioy tf thdegreoan thae
provisicy. IompAiculartyifee pvriats ins or civiliams are
overserf fonlne foo sane oh th330ry due uton o12vm zhehbe required bf t.d
Exclusicyn
woult benefnnwosgyppsse on individua;co thosunarably toeehan thr requimenenaf fog eIe
hon>arndmorthg ahen th$82,400an
woult benefnr
primilyehigh-n incomhoclehoous,/> wouldixiprshog th> proessiviline oh thn incoms
hae desiosee toffset/d then income tnsatioe od
worvinabroad ; ansllevpriatdocrably tnsati,os noa As anl comblid
arndde, wlose in thr gusi,nthand usmdoas noe requinthan incomt tairoentld
toffset/n feesige taeepaidcys
equi: Am zgnI individual> Serving in Combas
If thstextAce of extending the combat zone exclusion to civilians is to make
civilian benefits equal to those of the Armed Forces, then the distinctions between
military service and civilian employment become important in the analysis of the
policy. In that context, it has been observed that military personnel cannot resign
when facing danger; they cannot refuse assignment; they are considered to be on duty
24 hours a day, every day; and they may be required to work until thjobns id zonn
ithas ct scieffax rnsatishipon to compensaticy.Wethrseat military personnemuxise
ert fmto thosn dircesl civilian employeey ma foy maann,he spendintion fos wmde
theo wo,r fog the contras/> thes havnegotpriad,y; and rpose contras/> coulstilumade
erersonnrk. soeso militarmembnfery are ctrollad,ya direer,l fganazat,ol rdstriad,yn
mbao a cmansidet in the Armed Forcllawfulonlexnrcarise> ovot s rdstriaonbyavirtuonn
tobeyng thl wfulr fdnfere oaoe
cmansideabohavhim,lhie forheeiset sjire/to crixiperaruprshitmenn /n o rdinance
ithag thU st fm/Comads oMwmilitarJuxiaanc(UCMJ)cy.Thiuesacomaud rParitdoohas noe
ovol civilian employeenxcepten rllinnimesis owarerg i, whice caoalral civilioe
itha foncc comnynding aa Armef Fordynrg thnieouln art sjire/to n
14ien


14iW wlost tmorerthn combctivmwmilitar>eeritisions iIraq, owarah has not beeder cuiree aesseas
LeraSlituces; anOhetheI issu, barn


Advocitasse of pandnding thn income tax exclusily to civilians noan thar sucsln
or civilian
erersonnrk.b>Civilianncc comnyndinf tha Armef Forcng in combat zohastilumade
contran oierersonn,a> contran otechnicrlirer preseaectiv,nwarao rre>poteymesere aoe
conibutstiny tf thwelfamore oe Armee
civiliclo worclrposee t rptilidircess oftew>arstin> st fmsm4 ann
aptisero whicy knsoh tm likelytn tt aear asin combanena> topoosiditi s
extensios og thn income tax exclusily to civiliang il comban
eess likelytaso> st fmidao militare
erersonned to incom,asurllirsee og th>eeritisicy. tey may bs more appropriatewho guonn
civilic,abutos noalrers have likelihoodis oo incrvincasurllirsee owar.ee
litin,ie og th2,363efttciadircne of th raqewarerasis oDecembnfa2005,hnihavwerade
contraorsIn rllinn omx
acomeimeageriodc15i. AshownIs iTarab 1, 85%on ofllmn individualg is service i raqen
raq, buto0.2%ae ofttciadirc.ee
Civilia5,0005oe
CivilitC contraors25,000110/e

Sourin:osup> eeRSotabosup>losup>avrrosup>ariadosup> bosup>yosup> thosup>omauosup>thosup>oosup>rosup> uosup>sosup>inosup>gosup> dosup>aosup>ta oosup>bosup>tosup>ainosup>eosup>dosup> fosup>rosup>oosup>mosup> osup>Iosup>rosup>aosup>qosup> osup>Cosup>oosup>ciadioosup>nosup> Casuosup>cityosup> Coosup>uosup>nosup>tosup>,ie
wosup>eosup>bsosup>itdp[aosup>tht://icrsosup>uosup>aosup>llirsosup>.osup>orgosup>/osup>oifosup>/osup>defosup>aosup>uosup>ll.rsosup>pxosup>],/rosup>iosup>sosup>itadnDec. 5,a2005,hanosup>diU.d Snosup>oosup>nosup>gosup>rosup>asosup>sosup>iosup>onosup>dued/sup>osup>Bosup>uosup>dgosup>etie
Oosup>ffiosup>cosup>eosup>,osup> osup>Logisosup>escsosup> S amposup>eon forsup>osup> Deplosup>plodnMwmilitosup>yosup> F forsup>osup>casosup> (Wasosup>hosup>iosup>nosup>gosup>tosup>onosup>:osup> Gosup>Posup>Oosup>,osup> 2005)esr. 46.ie
t/> could bo guoved thal civilian individualcapt ridnd bnn/enemyef Fordy may bn
lrpdatesereadindscls touhae

14i(...l coinssd)Sd
Safinoay; aneRSoRitmpoIRL33446,oM militarPaarandiB benefi:Sd
15iIraqrCoalieusieCasurllitC utaeswebsitdp[a ht://icasurllirs.org/oif/defaull.rspx],/rovidatee


. Alternativelyo federal civilian employeeg in combat zohaalreadardirectire
litin,ighaadxiprsteuired bf t.DeompAitmene o>litalt anw providet additionae
compensation
urrncditi,ac civ/e
ares,ivro arml fosmpAimeal cadditisi, whic, rrsuinoyhysicrlihafmonrancmipone16ie
te erherllha fowell-beudi/e oan/> employns.
In the case or civiliaDODan employe,og themoutane oicmiponeng dangryaarv Parcnn
17ie
honopoosenf extendinn income tax exclusily to civili/> contraorsIc wouln
contraorsIdirectirassiieffrneng ffidenorclg ienl Pidn thaobserc han
exclusiothausoncessitar; anan/>rolusioe opotamecalme tnre enssnf fog eIg Governmeatn
n eiavinl civilian cecomtrwmdt federan income tnsatioc woulo make civiliad
military servicd
coulst t rirs have negslativ,ftire/ohet militare recruitmenn
of the
nl Parc,n, whiclg ao Eeedr$100,000oaayeare18ie
pxricieedet military personncyn
litusatioditmpoIn incitadnf at n fmerat military personnes worvins
theoeradiian thn militaas. Ag ao examplea n fmeraGdieniB reonn
revaoclvel19ie
contraorsIcg abthfarounitennny/ditmpoc.ee
individuen te durpose .n


16iU.d SDeompAitmene o>lita,iwebsitdp[a ht://www.n stacgov/m/a/dua/1767ct/h],/rovidatee
17iIbidcye
18iHighdPaarne ay; anHighdRarksrne ayd FoC contraorsIs iIraq,/CNN.l m, Ae pl 210, 24, websitdp>
contraor/tadnxct/ht],/rovidatee
19iPeAlt W. Sidang, W rriorsIf foHireIs iIraq,/BrookrviitIn>litusatioF feesig> policStcaarc,nn

lcapt ridnmuprtitisi,asi$350,000o>er/year > undea/> contracf at g thr U.Se AitC rpcnn
20ie
contraorsIs worving iIraqty.T eoDCAAhfarounn
contraorsIoffidernv Pyrvinl mbipgnatisee od
ert fmadnd
21ieF fon exampleafiabutonihavr contraorsIoffidern;chdshipopayero whicy sanpaidan
of the
22ie
CivilitC contraorscy.A o rdstiny tDOD,nd
te erthrsuivee od
eeritisionoerade contraors,o, wlos17%noerade>Civilitt federaw wothhc23i.Sncoms
ert fmto blyhaadditional civiliay ampo rolrc,n, thrseaohethh/doas nrk.F fox
examplesncoml contraorsImayerlikeo> civilic,aobserce ir sucshrseaseavehiclene
coublsleod thy issne os equiznsatioe ob benefitf for civiliamsndooembnfere of tSn
CiviliaDODa>erersonn,ait/> could bo guov,t>eeritao>ithasin mar s
ovol civiliaDODan employe,oyeonn
ovoo militarmembnfets. Thextildircnn
t>ert fmt> eesdxiprstrrnati/radethee than
contran oierersonnrerthn civilia,ly they arunlikeag Governmene employenn
een emploded bf irdIompAinso> unde> contracfoag thU sdate>litaens. Thn

20iKevaniB goene anPhoed bZthwick, a ̶b>CivilianW worvinn for U.Ss iIraq/M mndina B> umplne”e
lon-Salem Jouterl, Fageanuar13,a2005,hr. 1cy.
21iU.d SDeompAitmene oDefxtee, DefxteeeC contra AuentlAgcien, Memoranduman foR gusionae
22iIbidcye
23iU.d SDeompAitmene oDefxtee, P eompdde>litaitmeneeen thNrnaoneraSecuraritP personnes

arstis.Tquesmtioy&exa;Husa/r iahegIae

tfifmrandif thDODcy.M militarc cmansnfers havlivsrl conol > ovol contraorsan anvivsre
coubinanat.Essamecalvelyo a cmansidnescreArmyaagrtastdn
contran o>honviolitassa directives is tcinanlen thc contranes
poteib miline tseompitaon it tnrabln incomtrwmdt tnrabln incom4 anf treampo n thae
ert fmadnn fooembnfere of tSe Armed Forccy.F fog eal contraorsae
hon> emplto civilians in combat zoho, iuenyppre oreampostiny may bnewcn anrerequinn
pxtseee and cemnxilicon



. axtenx: Lisane oCurrnmenC Combat Zonas
militar>erersonned thae
military ampo n to combat zohobutoo are nolocitadnn In the combax
24ie
eenng'pudi/ foeaolvnng'pedns in combcy.
01cyM militar>eeritisions if tSPereiliaGulfcshrsat.Eftirectivd Januar17,a1991,y.n
ealy, thGulfce oOmanly, thempAce o>
earn thanhas rlha f 10ndegreohas rlhalititumadandioesane o68ex

undeComadSeinctiS112 (E ecuactivOfdnfr12744)cye
ear axiss o30ndegreohaEastdn
eeritisions if tSPereiliaGulf-a aren
pquireJulytn
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