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US Army Halts Reenlistment Bonuses Despite Persistent Recruiting Shortfall

© US Air ForceU.S. Army Soldier silhouette on mission in Iraq
U.S. Army Soldier silhouette on mission in Iraq - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.09.2023
The announcement comes as polling earlier showed how US public confidence in the armed forces fell to a 26-year low.
A cash bonus program for reenlisting soldiers was suspended as the US Army exceeded its retention targets, although it still expects to fall short of its annual recruitment goal.
The temporary discontinuation of the program was publicized with immediate effect on September 12 in an internal Army Military Personnel Center message. The suspension comes several months after the service announced in April they had met their yearly target, retaining more than 55,000 soldiers who had been scheduled to retire.

The initiative, officially known as The Selective Retention Bonus Program, offers bonuses up to tens of thousands of dollars for soldiers in specialized areas who choose to reenlist.

The temporary suspension of the program will last through the end of the Army’s fiscal year on September 30, when a new bonus program will be announced. Until then, soldiers may be eligible for other benefits upon reenlistment, including specialized courses or career training.

The announcement marks the fourth year in a row that retention goals were exceeded, but falling enlistment means the US Army continues to bleed soldiers. A shortfall of 15,000 new recruits against a target of 60,000 last year generated significant headlines. The Army is set to announce slightly higher numbers this year but is still expected to fall well short of this year’s target of 65,000 recruits.
The Army has sought to address chronic enlistment shortfalls by relaxing policies requiring a high school diploma and banning certain visible tattoos. Additionally, several incentives are offered such as educational benefits, cash bonuses, and accelerated naturalization for permanent residents.
Airman 1st Class D'elbrah Assamoi, from Cote D'Ivoire, signs her US certificate of citizenship after the Basic Military Training Coin Ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, in San Antonio, April 26, 2023 - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.06.2023
US Army Lures Legal Migrants to Enlist for Quick Citizenship Amid Recruiting Shortfalls
Still, Army guidelines bar 71% of American youth from enlisting due to obesity, past drug use, criminal history, physical and mental health problems or a lack of needed skills.
More recently, a tight job market is also providing stiff competition for Army recruiters. The majority of enlistees come from military families as nearly 80% of new recruits have a relative who served.
Recent polling from Gallup revealed that only 60% of Americans have confidence in the US military, the lowest percentage in over two decades. The decline in confidence has accelerated over the last five years, with a notable drop after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. Party breakdown revealed 68% of registered Republicans expressed “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the US military, while 62% of registered Democrats do. Only 55% of political independents reported confidence in US armed forces.
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