With President Donald Trump pushing to expand the US military, some US Army soldiers could be eligible for bonuses in amounts up to $90,000. The additional funds would be provided in exchange for additional years of service and are designed to encourage current military members to re-enlist. The move is a reversal of the downsizing seen during the Obama administration.
As reported by Fox Business, qualifying for the full $90,000 upfront bonus requires the eligible soldiers to re-enlist for additional terms of service that add three or more years to their service commitment. It is anticipated the changes will lead the Army to award triple the dollar amount of payments from the previous year and is projected to total more than $380 million in bonuses this year. Over $26 million has been paid out in bonuses over the last two weeks alone.
Under the current expansion plan, the number of active duty Army soldiers would rise by 16,000, reaching a total of 476,000 service members by October. To meet the requirements set by Congress, the Army would need to bring in 6,000 new enlisted soldiers and add 1,000 officers. Additionally, 9,000 current service members would need to be convinced to re-enlist.
Senior Army leaders consider enticing thousands of service members who are mere months away from leaving the service to sign up for additional tours, adding years to their Army careers. Many of the active duty personnel who are planning their exit have already turned down multiple entreaties designed to encourage them to stay.
During an interview at his office in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Gen. Robert Abrams, the head of the US Army Forces Command, said, “We’ve got a ways to go,” referring to meeting the new expansion mandate. “I’m not going to kid you. It’s been difficult because a lot of these kids had plans and families had plans.”
Maj. Gen. Jason Evans, who recently became the head of the Army Human Resources Command, said, “The top line message is that the Army is hiring.”
He went on to state that the expansion was to go forward “responsibly with a focus on quality,” asserting that there would be no change to any of the enlistment or re-enlistment currently in place.
The funds for the bonuses will be coming out of the Army’s base budget, now approved by Congress at $550 billion.
A soldier’s re-enlistment bonus varies depending on their position. Certain intelligence, high-tech, and language-oriented positions or skills are being highly rewarded, with eligible personnel receiving payments between $50,000 and $90,000 for adding three to five years to their terms. More routine positions, such as lower level infantry jobs, may not be eligible for any bonus or may receive only a few thousand dollars.
Currently, the Army is approximately three-quarters of the way to the re-enlistment goal as the new bonus structure has caused a spike in re-enlistments. Since May 24, more than 2,200 soldiers have decided to add a few more years to their service contracts, and the higher payments are likely responsible for many of their decisions to stay.