There are several ways to address the "pay gap" between military and private sector workers, which military leaders blame—in part—for a recent slide in force quality. The first way might be called the direct approach. It involves using some type of statistical yardstick to confirm that a pay gap exists, then starting to close it by pumping extra billions of dollars into annual pay raises.
Ronald Reagan chose this path in 1981 after military leaders had declared the All-Volunteer force was "hollow," and Reagan won a landslide election by vowing to rearm America. Following an 11.7% military pay raise in 1980, Reagan proposed and Congress agreed to a 11.3% "targeted" raise in 1981. Some ranks got less than 5%; others saw pay jump by more than 17%.