KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - New changes to the Army's retention program will affect not only how the Army operates, but also who will be allowed to stay in the Army.

Previously, Soldiers who were two years away from their Expiration Term of Service would be allowed to re-enlist. Because there was not a set end date, the window for re-enlistment differed from Soldier to Soldier.

As of Oct. 1 that has changed. Soldiers whose ETS is March 31, 2012, or sooner are now eligible to re-enlist. With this static reenlistment window ending March 31, 2012, the number of Soldiers eligible to re-enlist will shrink as the fiscal year goes on.

"If you are in your window, you need to talk to your leaders, career counselors and retention," said Sgt. Maj. Elisabeth Jones, the command career counselor for the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. "If you know that you want to re-enlist, you need to go ahead and make that commitment now."

Soldiers in over-strength military occupational specialties will have to retrain into another specialty in order to re-enlist or separate on their ETS date. Some Soldiers in over-strength specialties will have to reclassify even if they do not re-enlist. The Army is sending out letters to some Soldiers in over-strength MOSs directing reclassification, the new job specialty selected and the school date for the new MOS training.

"The Army has met its growth two years early, however efforts continue to balance the Army," said Jones.

Before they receive the letter from DA notifying them of the mandatory reclassification, Soldiers in over-strength specialties can reclassify to a specialty on the Bonus Extension and Retraining Program as another option, Jones said.

"There are some very interesting jobs in the BEAR program," she said. "There are so many things that you can do as a Soldier."

Some of the under-strength job specialties in the BEAR program are counterintelligence agent (35L), public affairs specialist (46Q), broadcast journalist (46R), translator (09L), diver (21D) and unmanned aerial vehicle operator (15W).

There are also positions available to Soldiers that are not widely known, which they can re-enlist for.

he White House Transportation Agency is always looking for drivers, Jones said, and positions are available at the Old Guard. Jones also said a Soldier recently re-enlisted for MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.

"The thing that we are most successful at getting people is schools," said Sgt. 1st Class Sharon Gillins, a career counselor with the 21st TSC.

However, Soldiers who want to re-enlist for a school, whether it is for an additional skill identifier or reclassification, need to make sure they meet the requirements for going to that school.
Because the Army has met its retention goal for fiscal year 2010 in the first quarter, a lot of the bonuses Soldiers used to receive for re-enlisting will soon be going away. A reduction in the number of job specialties that would receive a bonus and the amount of money for the bonuses began in October. A further reduction will occur in January, and deployment bonuses are projected for reduction or elimination in the future.

Soldiers who would like more information on retention should contact their unit career counselor or visit the 21st TSC's retention web site at www.21tsc.army.mil/retention.

Page last updated Fri December 18th, 2009 at 09:24