Gordon Brown has promised to study Ministry of Defence bonus payments after it was revealed the department's civil servants had pocketed almost £50m this year.
There was anger among troops' families after the disclosure that bonuses for bureaucrats had reached £287,809,049 since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
They were described as an insult to soldiers fighting on the frontline in Afghanistan amid claims over equipment shortages.
But union leaders and ministers defended the bill, pointing out that many of the recipients were not highly paid.
The Prime Minister said: “If there are any questions asked over the bonuses, I will examine them.”
But he added: “I've got to say that some of the people who have received help have been working out in the field, and people that have been supporting people out there. We want to send a message of support to our armed forces.”
Official MoD figures showed a total of £47,283,853 had been paid out in bonuses to civil servants this year between April and August.
The figure was down on the £52,984,656 paid out in 2008/09 but higher than the previous year's £46,103,238 and almost double the bonuses totalling £24,866,213 paid out in 2003/04. Hazel Hunt, whose son Private Richard Hunt died in August, said: “I would take great exception to bonuses paid for ‘exceptional performance'. They are not delivering and I think it is obscene they have got such bonuses while our troops are being short changed. Not only in equipment but also in the fact that my son was barely on £17,000 a year.”
Phil Cooper — whose son Jamie received £200,000 in compensation for injuries received in Iraq — said it was “absolutely disgusting that they can do this from the safety of their armchairs”.