The Army could offer troops up to a $90,000 bonus to entice them to re-enlist as part of a major service expansion plan.
Army officials told the Associated Press that it’s allocating more than $380 million for bonuses, in order to put an end to troops cuts that occurred following the waning years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Troop numbers have dropped from a high of 570,000 soldiers to an estimated 450,000 by the conclusion of fiscal year 2018, which is a 21 percent drop, but that estimation has changed with Congress’ latest budget figures.
Congress has driven this latest re-enlistment campaign by approving a $550 billion base budget, though the levels don’t quite match the large expansion President Donald Trump wanted. Under existing plans, the Army will expand by 16,000 troops to a total of 476,000 in October, which falls short of Trump’s goal of 540,000.
For now, the Army will have to bring in 6,000 soldiers, 1,000 officers and find a way to persuade 9,000 existing soldiers to remain in the service to meet goals of 476,000.
The biggest challenge is not bringing in more soldiers, but convincing existing ones to stay for a longer term.
“We’ve got a ways to go,” Gen. Robert Abrams, head of U.S. Army Forces Command, told the Associated Press. “I’m not going to kid you. It’s been difficult because a lot of these kids had plans and their families had plans.”
Not everyone who re-enlists will receive $90,000. Higher bonuses will go to high-skilled jobs like in the cyber field or cryptology, and those bonuses can range anywhere from $50,000 to $90,000.
Basic infantry soldiers, however, may receive zero bonuses or a few thousand dollars.
“The top line message is that the Army is hiring,” Maj. Gen. Jason Evans, head of Human Resources Command, told the Associated Press.
Evans added that expansion by no means entails a reduction in standards.
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