Army Enlistment Incentives Program Enhancements
What is it?
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2006 approved changes in maximum enlistment bonus ceilings, modified some existing bonuses, expanded the scope of the student loan repayment program and instituted a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) pilot test. NDAA 2007 changed the inter-service transfer bonus amount and authorized authority to pay an officer candidate school enlistment bonus. NDAA 2008 enhanced the Reserve Component Education Loan Repayment Program and some reserve component bonuses.
What has the Army done?
On 18 January 2006, the Regular Army implemented the $40K enlistment bonus program. The previous enlistment bonus ceiling for the Regular Army was $20K. On 17 January 2006, the Army Reserve and Army National Guard implemented the $20K non-prior service (NPS) enlistment bonus. NDAA08 provided authority to pay bonus for reserve contracts of 3 or 6 year duration and to some former members who previously failed to complete initial entry training. These provisions were implemented on 22 February 2008. The previous NPS maximum for the Reserve Components (RC) was $10K. Statutory authority was also approved for an inter-service transfer bonus of $2.5K. The $2.5K authority was implemented for officer transfers in January 2006. This bonus was raised in the NDAA07 to $10K and has been implemented. The statute governing Student Loan Repayments (SLRP) for the Active Army was changed to permit more flexibility in the types of loans that the services were allowed to repay. The expansion permits repayment for education loans from commercial banks or credit unions, pension plans, and State loans in addition to federally recognized student education loans. NDAA08 expanded the reserve component loan repayment program to reflect the same criteria as the Active Army program. This expanded authority was implemented on 19 October 2006 for the Active Army and on 24 March 2008 for the Reserve Components. Legislation mandated that the Army institute a TSP matching test to gauge feasibility as a recruiting tool. Authority to match dollar for dollar up 3 percent and 50 cents on the dollar up to 5 percent was implemented 1 June 2006 for selected enlistments in critical skills. This pilot test will last through Calendar Year (CY) 2008. The Army used the existing bonus authorities to great effect in the latter part of FY07 by increasing quick ship bonuses in critical skills and has continued this effort in FY08.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army received authority in the NDAA 2007 to implement an OCS enlistment bonus with retroactive provisions to April 2005. The Army officer accessions division has drafted policy to fully implement this authority. NDAA 2007 raised the $2.5 inter-service transfer bonus to a new $10K ceiling. This new level has been implemented. The success of current pending Army pilot projects (Recruiter Incentive Pay and referral bonuses) will further determine future needs. The Army instituted the Army Advantage Fund (AAF) in FY08 as one pilot program. AAF offers a bonus for future down payment on a home or small business. The Army is also implemented an Active First initiative that will enable the Army National Guard to enlist Soldiers into the active Army who will serve for up to 48 months before returning to their home National Guard unit to fulfill the remainder of their commitment in the Selected Reserve.
Why is this important to the Army?
Incentives provide the Army with the tools needed to effectively recruit and sustain the force. It is essential that the Army remains competitive with the other services and with other civilian alternatives. A strong incentives package supports the Army’s ability to attract the best talent available.