Information Papers

Officer Retention

What is it?
Officer retention has received renewed interest with the continuous requirements of the Global War on Terrorism combined with the significant force structure growth as we transform to a modular force. The Army will add more than 8,300 basic-branch commissioned officer positions by FY10, with more than 4,500 of those positions at the grades of captain and major. While the overall company-grade loss rates are not alarming, the Army is being proactive and is working several initiatives to retain more of our best and brightest officers.

What has the Army done?

The Army implemented a precommissioning program in FY06, allowing cadets to select a branch, post, or graduate school for an additional service obligation of three years. This program proved successful in just one year; 1,100 participated in FY06 and 1,600 in FY07. The Army expects this program to reduce loss rates among U.S. Military Academy (USMA) and ROTC scholarship commissioned officers beginning in FY10 when these officers will have completed their normal active-duty service obligation (five years for USMA and four for ROTC officers). Now, these officers will be retained for eight and seven years, respectively. (USMA cadets may agree to serve three years beyond their five-year obligation; scholarship ROTC cadets agree to serve their four-year obligation plus an additional three years of active duty service; and nonscholarship officers agree to serve their three-year active-duty obligation plus an additional three years.)

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

The Army initiated an Officer Retention Menu of Incentives on Sept. 13, 2007, to target retention of Army Competitive Category and selected Medical Service and Army Nurse captains. This initiative allows most of the Army’s captains in the years 1999 through 2005 the opportunity to select a branch of choice, post of choice, military school, advanced degree, or Critical Skills Retention Bonus in exchange for an agreement to serve three additional years past any existing service obligations. The Army estimates that it can retain an additional 2,300 officers above its normal retention between now and 2009 through these incentives.

Why is this important to the Army?
Analysis of the initial phase of the incentives program compared to recent Defense Military Data Center surveys indicates that the incentives have had a significant impact on our captains' decision to remain in the service.  Prior surveys indicated that 52% of Captains polled intended to separate or were undecided about continuing in a military career.  Of those officers, 54% took a menu incentive and will now continue to serve until at least FY 11.