Bonuses, incentives to retain Soldiers amid push for million-strong force
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Bonuses, incentives to retain Soldiers amid push for million-strong force
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Army News Service) -- With the total Army tasked to
expand by 28,000 troops this year, the service hopes to retain quality Soldiers with
incentives, such as cash bonuses up to $10,000 for extensions, the Army's top enlisted
member said Thursday.

"We need Soldiers to stay in the Army," Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey said
during a town hall meeting at the Defense Information School. "If you're on the fence
[and you plan to get out this year], go see your career counselor. I guarantee you that
they have some good news."

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017 recently raised the Army's
end strength to just over 1 million Soldiers for all components. Initial proposals had the
entire Army slated to draw down to 980,000 by the end of this year. The NDAA
increased the active force by 16,000 to an end strength of 476,000 and also bumped
the reserve component by 12,000.

"We're not in a drawdown anymore; we're in an increase situation," he said. "The Army
is going to get bigger."

Soldiers who decide to extend their service for 12 months may receive the cash bonus,
up to $10,000, depending on their military occupational specialty, time in service and
re-enlistment eligibility, he added.

Choice of duty location, stabilization at duty stations, chances to extend service rather
than re-enlist, and incentives such as schools are other ways the Army hopes to retain
its own. Assignment and training options vary by MOS.

"There are some very creative things we're going to do to stimulate all of that," he said.
"The important thing Soldiers need to know is to ensure they talk to their career
counselors. They are the experts at the unit level who can tailor options based on a
Soldier's specific situation and MOS."

Education benefits for enlisted Soldiers are also improving, he said, with "huge
systematic changes" to the NCO professional development system, ongoing reviews of
common core for all career fields, and possible expansion of tuition assistance.

"We need to change the dynamic in how we train and educate our Soldiers,".

Military training, he said, can help Soldiers obtain college degrees through the Army
University's credentialing program.

Under the NDAA, Congress has authorized the Army to pay for credentials that
translate to a civilian occupation as long as it relates to an MOS, a Soldier's regular
duties, and during a Soldier's transition out of the Army.

"We have permission to pay for your credentials for the job you do in the Army," he said.
"That's not a bad deal."

The Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program also informs Soldiers how to use their
military training toward certificates and licenses required for civilian professions, such as
electrician, plumber, welder, and many other jobs.

In addition, the Army is working toward letting Soldiers use tuition assistance to pay for
these certificates and licenses, Dailey said.

These efforts, he said, will allow Soldiers to thrive in the civilian sector once they leave
the service.

"We have a responsibility to prepare you for that, just like we prepare you for war," he
said. "Simultaneously, by doing that we're making you a better Soldier."

These changes may also convince many Soldiers to keep serving or even persuade
potential recruits to sign up.

"It sends a perception across America that we value people," Dailey said. "We want to
stay at a competitive level and make sure that we get the right people to join.

"It's a reinvestment in the all-volunteer force of the future."

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