As the Defense Department grapples with how to handle some 10,000 California National Guardsmen who received improper bonus payments, a spokesman for the Maryland Guard said just three service members received improper bonuses and have already paid the money back.

The overpayments totaled $32,000 Col. Charles S. Kohler said Wednesday. Another guardsman was underpaid $600, the same audit found.


"There's nothing outstanding," Kohler said. "There's no soldiers in Maryland we're trying to recoup money from."

The cases were revealed in a 2011 audit begun after the problems in California began to emerge, Kohler said.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday that some 10,000 California National Guardsmen are now faced with having to repay tens of thousands of dollars each. The story prompted widespread outrage among politicians and on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter ordered a halt to efforts to collect the money while a further review is carried out.

"There is no more important responsibility for the Department of Defense than keeping faith with our people," Carter said in a statement. "That means treating them fairly and equitably, honoring their service and sacrifice, and keeping our word."

Defense Department officials have said there were problems in other states but have provided few details.

The bonus payments date back to the middle of the war in Iraq when the military was struggling to entice people to reenlist and turned to large cash payouts as an incentive. The payments were supposed to be linked to particular military jobs that were in high demand and sometimes came with other conditions.

In California, the National Guard's bonus manager admitted in federal court to knowingly approving $15.2 million in fraudulent payouts and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Some California soldiers say they took the money in good faith, not realizing they were in fact ineligible and now cannot afford to pay back the Defense Department.

Kohler said that the National Guard has new systems in place that are designed to stop similar problems for happening in the future.