Special Operations: Getting Off Cheap



p> October 23, 2007: In the last few years, the U.S. Department of Defense has paid over $100 million in retention bonuses to about 1,500 experienced Special Operations operators. Most of those getting the bonuses were Special Forces and SEAL personnel who were eligible for retirement, and being offered high paying civilian security jobs. Appeals to patriotism, and bonuses of up to $150,000, persuaded most of those operators to stay in uniform. It would cost millions of dollars, and nearly a decade of effort, to replace each of those twenty year vets. Bonuses of under $100,000 worked for troops not yet eligible for the half-pay pension. Most of the billions in bonus money goes to a small number of specialists, like Special Forces, SEALs, explosives disposal (they deal with roadside bombs), intelligence and electronics specialists. The bonus program has been around for decades, but as been used more aggressively in the last decade, as the civilian economy boomed, and increasingly saw highly skilled military personnel as potential hires.

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