Army Boosts Enlistment Bonuses

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2007 - In an effort to bolster the growth of the Army by more than 34,000 soldiers, Army officials are implementing a new bonus for recruits who sign up by the end of this fiscal year.

U.S. Army Recruiting Command this week announced a $20,000 "quick-ship" bonus for aspiring recruits with no prior military service who enlist for at least two years of active duty and report to basic training within 30 days of enlistment. The program ends Sept. 30.

The new bonus was one of the initiatives highlighted by Army and Defense Department leaders who testified before the military personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee yesterday about recruiting and retention efforts in the Army. The Army missed its active-duty recruiting goals in June for the second month in a row, but the leaders said they are confident the service will make year-end recruiting goals.

"Despite the challenges we face and will continue to face in the future, the Army continues to be successful overall in growing and maintaining the all-volunteer Army," Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, deputy chief of staff for personnel, told the committee.

Rochelle was joined at the hearing by Michael Dominguez, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness; Army Lt. Gen. Clyde A. Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard; and Army Maj. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, commander of Army Recruiting Command. All the leaders emphasized that Army recruiters face a very daunting task, as they are trying to grow the end strength of the Army in a challenging environment.

"Over the longer term, meeting recruiting targets will remain challenging," Dominguez said. "Propensity to enlist is down; willingness of coaches, teachers, counselors and parents to commend military service to America's youth is lower than is good for our nation and our military; the numbers of people who meet our enlistment standards is astonishingly low."

To counter these challenges, the Army has launched several recruiting initiatives, Bostick explained to the committee. The initiatives include:

-- Adding incentives and heavily advertising the two-year enlistment option;

-- Establishing a "super leads" program to help refine nearly 1 million leads to identify those with the highest potential to enlist, saving recruiters valuable time and allowing them to focus on prospecting;

-- Issuing an operational mission to the recruiting force for each recruiter to write six contracts between the end of June and September, with four recruits to join in this fiscal year;

-- Requesting additional soldiers graduating from initial training to serve as hometown recruiter assistants and returning combat veterans to serve as special recruiter assistants to tell their Army stories and influence prospective recruits;

-- Re-emphasizing the $2,000 referral bonus program;

-- Requesting the temporary return of up to 1,000 former successful recruiters to augment the recruiting force; and

-- Requesting general-officer assistance to help the recruiting effort in communities across America through speaking engagements in their hometowns, schools and colleges and at events

Bostick noted that despite the tough environment, nearly 70,000 people have joined the Army this year, and those in the Army are reenlisting at record rates. He also defended the quality of the recruits, pointing out that in fiscal 2006, 81 percent of the regular Army and 89 percent of the Army Reserve were high school graduates. Also, 85 percent of the recruits who shipped to basic training that year joined without any waivers.

"Regardless of their education credentials or test scores, every applicant we enlist is qualified to serve," Bostick said.

When looking at recruiting statistics, it is important to remember that the Army is all-volunteer, has been at war for five years, and is undergoing a historic transformation, Rochelle said. The Army is growing its end strength to meet the demands of its new structure, and despite a historical low of 16 percent for youth propensity to serve in the military, the Army is still on target to achieve its year-end recruiting goals, he said.

"The all-volunteer Army is 'Army strong' precisely because each American that joins our ranks chooses to do so," Rochelle said. "Enlistment is the first act of selflessness that develops young Americans into the courageous troops we all admire. We are leveraging the flexibilities you have given us to close fiscal year 2007 successfully. We remain ahead of glide path to achieve our fiscal year 2007 recruiting mission, and I am reasonably confident that we can achieve that success in fiscal year 2008."

Army Boosts Enlistment Bonuses [ ]