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.