Army Pays $1 Billion To Recruit And Retain Soldiers

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
USA Today
April 12, 2007
Pg. 8

Cost Of Bonuses Has Leapt Since Start Of Iraq War
By Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today
WASHINGTON — The Army paid more than $1 billion last year in bonuses to attract and keep soldiers in the service, more than three times the total amount of bonuses paid before the Iraq war began.
Higher bonuses show the increasing costs of maintaining the troop strength of the Army, the service branch that sends the most troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. The job is made more difficult by the service's plans to grow by 7,000 soldiers a year through 2012. The Army plans to hit its goal with more recruiting and higher retention.
"This illustrates how difficult it has become to recruit with increasing public sentiment against the war," said James Martin, an expert on military culture at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and a retired Army colonel.
This week, the Pentagon announced that it had alerted about 13,000 National Guard soldiers that they could be sent to Iraq by the end of the year. About 40% of these part-time soldiers have served in Iraq, Afghanistan or Kosovo.
Halfway through the 2007 budget year, the Army is meeting its annual recruiting goal, the Pentagon said Tuesday. To ensure it meets its goal this year, the Army wants an additional 450 recruiters and may hire private contractors to do the job, Army budget documents show. That's because there aren't enough non-commissioned officers to do the job.
Money to pay for the extra recruiters is part of the emergency spending bill for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that is being debated by Congress. President Bush has threatened to veto the bill unless Congress removes a proposed timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.
Last year, the Army recruited 80,635 troops. To achieve that, the Army bolstered the ranks of its recruiters, raised enlistment bonuses to as much as $40,000 and allowed recruits with tattoos on their necks and hands to join. It also bumped the age limit twice. Without the 653 recruits older than 35, the Army would not have met its annual goal of 80,000. In 2005, the Army missed its 80,000-recruit goal by 6,627 soldiers.
The average enlistment bonus was about $10,925 in 2006 compared with $6,353 in 2002. Sixty-eight percent of recruits received bonuses in 2006; 38% did in 2002.
The amount spent on bonuses in 2006 is roughly equal to what the Pentagon spent on electronic jamming devices to disable roadside bombs.
A strong economy and the need to reward soldiers who have performed well during the Iraq war have forced bonus spending higher, said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman. "You're not going to re-enlist for $13,000 to go back to Iraq," Hilferty said. "If soldiers didn't like being part of the team, they wouldn't be re-enlisting."
The total paid in retention bonuses has jumped the highest and is almost six times as much as in 2002, when the Army paid $127.8 million. Last year, the Pentagon paid $736.9 million in retention bonuses.
Two-thirds of all soldiers who re-enlisted in 2006 received a bonus compared with 27% in 2002, Army records show. The average re-enlistment bonus in 2006 was $13,824; in 2002, it was $10,114.
The Army also accepted more recruits who needed waivers for drug use, medical issues, criminal records and the lack of high school diplomas, said retired general Barry McCaffrey in a recent report. McCaffrey, an adjunct professor at West Point who travels to Iraq frequently as a Pentagon consultant, wrote that "the U.S. armed forces are in a position of strategic peril."