Attrition: Paid To Keep Playing


March 21,2008: The U.S. Army has maintained its strength in wartime, with a voluntary force, by using a number of effective techniques. One of the most productive is the selective re-enlistment bonus (SRB) program. This has been around for thirty years, and is constantly tweaked to do what it was designed to do, offer cash bonuses to troops with critical skills, to encourage them to sign up for another four years. The reenlistment bonuses average$10,000 (depending on rank, time in service and job) for those eligible. These bonuses, plus combat pay increases the average soldiers pay by 10-20 percent.

This year, the SRB calculations have been greatly simplified, and the number of jobs (MOS, or Military Occupational Specialty) eligible has been cut from 67 percent of all MOSs, to 45 percent. The bonuses range from $1,500 to $29,000. The largest bonuses go to NCOs in critical skill areas.Sergeants in combat, intelligence or technical jobs tend to be offered the most money.

The army also offers bonuses to recruits who qualify (via tests) for training for highly technical jobs. Similar bonuses are also offered to troops who agree to switch from their current MOS, to one that is more in demand, and usually requires long and intense training. Most bonuses are paid half up-front, and the rest at the end of the enlistment (or completion of training.)

The biggest thing the army has to worry about, thought, is the state of the U.S. economy. In boom times, it's much harder to recruit, or retain, people. So the looming recession makes it easier for army recruiters. So far, the recruiters have done quite well. They have recruited new people to replace 3,000 killed or badly wounded in combat, as well as additional troops to expand the army by about eight percent.




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