The U.S. Army will suspend re-enlistment bonuses through the end of the fiscal year after hitting its retention goals.
“While not every soldier receives a bonus, the increased retention increased the expenditures,” Army spokeswoman Madison Bonzo said, according to a report in Military.com. “In previous years, the Army was able to shift funds from other programs but, rather than put other programs at risk, we elected to suspend the bonuses.”
The comments come after an internal message from the Army Military Personnel Center, shared with Military.com, went out last week announcing that the Selective Retention Bonus Program was ending on “the effective date of this message,” with the report noting that the suspension in bonuses is expected to last until the end of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.
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The move was made after a strong soldier retention effort by the Army, which in April hit its goal of retaining 55,000 members who were scheduled to leave the military, the fourth year in a row the branch has met its retention objectives. The Army also retained 3,700 more soldiers in 2023 than it did the previous fiscal year, leading to the decision to suspend the re-enlistment bonus program.
The news comes amid a military recruiting crisis across all branches that has been particularly difficult for the Army, who last year came up 15,000 recruits shy of meeting its recruiting goals. While the Army is expected to once again miss its recruiting objectives in 2023, the branch believes it has “positive momentum” and will improve upon last year’s performance.
“We have seen positive momentum over the last several months, and we are currently on track to recruit more young Americans than we did last year,” Bonzo told Military.com. “We have two weeks left in the fiscal year, and we are still actively recruiting.”
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Included in that momentum is the Army’s strong retention numbers, which have come at least in part due to the Selective Retention Bonus Program. The program offers qualified soldiers “who reenlist in the Regular Army for continued duty in certain military occupational specialties” bonuses that depend on the needs of the Army, according to Army Human Resources Command. According to Benzo, the program will be reinstated “in the very near future.”
The Army will hope to carry that momentum into the last few weeks of recruiting, with Army Secretary Christine Wormuth saying earlier this year that the branch expects to bring “more young Americans into the Army,” which was disastrous 2022, though she cautioned leaders will still have to do more in order for the Army to start meeting its goals.
“I think by several thousand, we’re going to do better than we did last year,” Wormuth said. “And that’s positive, but we’ve got more work to do.”