Military service leaders seemed to say Wednesday that base pay for enlisted troops is not a recruitment barrier. Leaders from the services testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on recruitment challenges.

The administration has proposed a 5.2% pay increase for service members, on top of a 4.6% raise that went into effect in January. Defense officials said they want to do a deeper dive before adding onto those raises, Military Times reported.

“We have done reviews of this and found that if you do a job in the Navy or Marine Corps and do the same job in the private sector, on average the people doing the job in the military earn more,” said Navy Under Secretary Erik Raven. “But there remains this perception that [service members] earn much less than their private sector counterparts.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) “bristled” when she heard civilian and military pay equated, Military Times reported.

“It’s an apples-to-oranges comparison when you’re asking young men and women to travel around the world and be separated from their family,” Ernst said.

The Army and Air Force have offered recruitment bonuses as all branches – except for the Space Force – seem to be struggling to meet recruitment goals again this year.

Air National Guard photo of Sen. Ernst by Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot