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WASHINGTON ? Soldiers are re-enlisting at rates ahead of the Army's targets, even as overall recruiting is suffering after two years of the Iraq war.This is buried a bit farther down:
The high re-enlistment rates would make up about one-third of the Army's projected 12,000-troop shortfall in recruiting, although the re-enlistments won't address some key personnel vacancies, such as military police and bomb-disposal experts.
Army officials attribute the strong re-enlistment rates to unprecedented cash bonuses and a renewed sense of purpose in fighting terrorism. Some of the record bonuses are tax-free if soldiers re-enlist while in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Re-enlistment bonuses range from as little as $1,000 to as much as $150,000, depending on the type of job and length of re-enlistment. The $150,000 bonuses are offered only to senior special operations commandos who agree to stay in the military for up to six more years. The average bonus is $10,000, said Col. Debbra Head, who monitors Army retention at the Pentagon.
About 60% of all soldiers who have re-enlisted this year, Conway said, have received cash bonuses of some kind.So these are the facts: 60% of all soldiers who have re-enlisted this year have received cash bonuses averaging $10,000. Thirty-five percent of Army re-enlistments have come in combat zones - meaning 65% of those receiving bonuses were taxed heavily (combat zone tax exclusions apply to bonuses too). In spite of the well deserved $150,000 bonuses offered only to senior special operations commandos, the best description for any bonus is modest (we'll offer a contrast shortly).
While the USA Today piece points out the non-financial motivations that lead Gis to re-up, watch for future references elsewhere claiming that because of Iraq the Army must rely on large cash bonuses to keep the ranks full.
Military leaders still worry that a record number of overseas deployments are wearing down troops and encouraging too many quality personnel to leave service.If something seems unusual about the wording, it's probably because it's from January 2002 - over one year prior to the invasion of Iraq.
Yet robust reenlistment rates among deployed forces suggest morale is high and troops are never more satisfied than when facing danger.
What explains the paradox?
Tax breaks, most likely.
As career-minded service members rotate through combat zones and hazardous duty areas, including Bosnia, Kosovo, the Persian Gulf and now Afghanistan, they learn to time their reenlistment to take full advantage of tax breaks embedded in such assignments.
For enlisted members and warrant officers, all military compensation paid while assigned there is tax exempt, including reenlistment bonuses.
Now for that promised comparison:
In the financial section of the newspaper or the business magazine, there is an article about a man, Philip J. Purcell, who has just left a huge financial services company after his performance was deemed subpar, and he's taking home a $113.7 million severance package.That's from Ben Stein (hat tip: Banter in Atlanter) who goes on to note:
Then I turn from the financial news to the general news section of the paper, or to the barrage of e-mail messages I get from people in the Army and Navy and Marines and Air Force, and I read about men and women who are taking fire from insurgents in Iraq and being blown up by homemade bombs that the Pentagon refers to as improvised explosive devices. The people being blown up are maybe corporals, and they get $1,900 a month, including combat pay.I appreciate the sentiment, but let's pause and set the record straight. An E4 with four years in service gets 1877 a month in base pay alone. If he's married and living off base he gets another variable amount - for Ft Hood Texas area (chosen at random) that's 775 dollars a month. In those circumstances he also gets 267 a month for meals. (If he's single and in the barracks, he's got free room and board.) Now add in combat pay - 225/month, hazardous duty pay 150/month and for the married guy another 250/month for family separation allowance. And oh-by-the-way free medical for the whole family, free dental for him and low-cost for the family, and tuition for off duty education. He may qualify for other allowances too. And if he goes career you can toss in a pension plan with no contribution from the soldier. This leaves a not bad for a high school graduate amount of disposable income - nowhere near the 113 million for Philip J. Purcell, but not quite as small as the number Mr. Stein is touting. His point is still valid, and appreciated - there's a real disparity between the two compensation packages, and he's correct in noting the application of the same to police, fire, and other deserving folks in service to their nation and community. But it really is time to end the comparison of military pay to fry chefs at McDonalds too.
You can look closer at the numbers here.
By the way, I don't want anyone anywhere paying higher taxes so I can get a pay raise.
As Ben Stein notes, Purcell's job has already been filled. But those so inclined can enlist here: Army Navy Air Force Marines - but please, remember - if too many of you do they'll take away the bonuses!
Ben Steins comments were pretty accurate for when I was in.
He is probably using the numbers that he had from 03 or 04 fiscal year.
As an e4 (3 years tis) my base pay + combat was close to 1900. The single guys got the short end of the stick with the various pays. I dont have any old les's around atm though. Not too many people stayed e4 for 4 or more years in the infantry unless they were completely screwed up or didnt want to be promoted.
Since most people are e2-e3s on the line, 1900 is still a very accurate figure to help the average person understand things.
Only military or prior service is going to differentiate between e3 and e4.
And one of things seldom addressed in the cost coverage is the retirement package. Yes, not everyone stays in to collect one, which is why Social Security is deducted. However, before Iraq II, before Afghanistan, before Iraq I, before Vietnam, the tendered offer always included to incentive of delayed compensation for service.
Half base pay at twenty [the short change created by the Nunn act has been made up iirc], Tricare medical, and continued access to exchange and commissary facilities are factors not usually computed into these compensation numbers. With the AARP crying about drug costs, it's nice to have access to free prescription sevices afforded by Tricare in many instances.
No, its not perfect, but I've come to realize that generally there is no perfect in the world. From this perspective, I've certainly got a hell of a deal for what I need in this world as compensation for the time and body put in.Posted by Don at July 19, 2005 02:49 PM
A middling point, but re-enlistment bonuses are half up front and the rest divided up among the remaining years. So unless you spend every year in a combat zone only part of the bonus is tax free.Posted by Don Miguel at July 19, 2005 09:23 PM
I think the majority of GIs in Iraq and Afghan might be Specialists - E4. But yes, the lower ranks outnumber the higher ranks.
Workers outnumber managers at Ford and General Motors, too.Posted by Old Soldier at July 19, 2005 09:36 PM
Clarifying - no rank is the majority, but there are probably more E4's than any other rank. Folks don't spend much time at E1-E3, unless they (ahem) earn it.Posted by Old Soldier at July 19, 2005 09:38 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(5) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)