By Debbie Gregory.
The U.S. Army is offering up to $90,000 to soldiers who reenlist as the service branch looks to add tens of thousands to its ranks.
The Army will triple the amount of bonuses it’s paying this year to more than $380 million, which includes incentives to woo soldiers to re-enlist, in an effort to expand its ranks.
By committing to another four or more years, soldiers in the most sought after positions such as Special Forces, cyber security, cryptologist and language skills could get $50,000-$90,000 up front. This with more routine jobs, such as some lower level infantry posts, may get just a couple of thousand dollars, if any bonus at all.
Under the current plan, the active duty Army will grow by 16,000 soldiers, taking it to 476,000 in total by October. The National Guard and the Army Reserve will also be adding troops, but at a lesser number.
To meet the mandate, the Army must find 6,000 new soldiers, convince 9,000 current soldiers to stay on and add 1,000 officers.
The biggest hurdle, according to senior Army leaders, is convincing thousands of enlistees who are only months away from leaving the service to sign up for several more years. Many have been planning their exits and have turned down multiple entreaties to stay.
“I’m not going to kid you. It’s been difficult because a lot of these kids had plans and their families had plans,” said Gen. Robert Abrams, head of U.S. Army Forces Command.
Maj. Gen. Jason Evans, head of the Army’s Human Resources Command, said the Army was expanding “responsibly with a focus on quality,” inferring that there will be not be a relaxation of standards such as previous waivers given to those with criminal or drug use records.
The new bonuses seem to be working, with the Army seeing a spike in re-enlistments, according to Mst. Sgt. Mark Thompson, who works with Army retention policies.
The Army is about three-quarters of the way to its goal for re-enlistments.