Soldiers re-enlist beyond U.S. goal

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by -Cp, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. -Cp

    -Cp Senior Member

    Sep 23, 2004
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    Boy - the LIBS are sure GONNA HATE THIS NEWS! - LOL!

    Soldiers are re-enlisting at rates ahead of the Army's targets, even as overall recruiting is suffering after two years of the Iraq war.

    The high re-enlistment rates would make up about one-third of the Army's projected 12,000-troop shortfall in recruiting, although the re-enlistments won't address some key personnel vacancies, such as military police and bomb-disposal experts.

    Army officials attribute the strong re-enlistment rates to unprecedented cash bonuses and a renewed sense of purpose in fighting terrorism. Some of the record bonuses are tax-free if soldiers re-enlist while in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Re-enlistment bonuses range from as little as $1,000 to as much as $150,000, depending on the type of job and length of re-enlistment. The $150,000 bonuses are offered only to senior special operations commandos who agree to stay in the military for up to six more years. The average bonus is $10,000, said Col. Debbra Head, who monitors Army retention at the Pentagon.

    From Oct. 1 through June, the Army had re-enlisted 53,120 soldiers, 6% ahead of its goal of about 50,000 for that period. At that pace, the Army would finish the year 3,850 troops ahead of its target of 64,162.

    Re-enlistment rates the past three years have been at least 6% above the service's goals for the 500,000-member active Army. There are about 105,000 Army soldiers in Iraq, including members of the National Guard and Reserve.

    "The biggest thing is that soldiers believe in what they are doing," Head said.

    The re-enlistment rate has remained strong even though the Army has accounted for 1,179 of the 1,750 U.S. troops killed in Iraq, according to USA TODAY's casualty database.

    By contrast, the Army through June was about 15% behind its goal of recruiting 80,000 soldiers by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The Army has said it faces the roughest recruiting climate since the start of the all-volunteer military in 1973.

    The bright re-enlistment picture won't fully compensate for the recruiting problems, Head said, because the Army needs new troops to fill its lower ranks and has limits on how many senior soldiers it can keep.

    Thirty-five percent of Army re-enlistments have come in combat zones, said Maj. Gerald Conway, who oversees retention policies for the Army.

    About 60% of all soldiers who have re-enlisted this year, Conway said, have received cash bonuses of some kind.

    Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, said the bonuses have encouraged soldiers to re-enlist, but that many soldiers are committed to fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Sgt. 1st Class Edwin Allbaugh, a member of the 75th Ordnance Company in Michigan, said he re-enlisted because his job makes a difference and "I work with a great group of guys." Allbaugh's unit, which disarms and destroys improvised bombs, is about to deploy to the Middle East.

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