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Officer Retention

What is it?
Officer retention is critical to sustaining the All-Volunteer Force. Retaining our combat experienced leaders is critical to the success of the force, especially as the Army grows in order to provide the necessary troop strength to counter the current and future potential threats. The Army will add more than 10,100 basic-branch commissioned officer positions by the end of FY11; more than 6,000 of those positions are at the rank of captain or major. Overall, company-grade loss rates are improving, but not quickly enough to meet the near term growth requirements. The Army continues to be proactive and is implementing initiatives that retain more of our best and brightest officers.

What has the Army done?
In 2006, the Army implemented a pre-commissioning program that allows cadets to select a branch, post, or graduate school for an additional service obligation of three years. This program has proved successful over the past three years with more than 4,500 participating cadets to date. The Army expects this program to reduce loss rates among U.S. Military Academy (USMA) and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) officers beginning in FY10. Then the officers from the earliest year group 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 an additional three years. The Army's Captains Retention Menu of Incentives Program has been ongoing for a full year, and has guaranteed obligations through the beginning of FY11 of more than 14,000 captains. This program targets retention of Army Competitive Category and selected Medical Service and Army Nurse Captains.

Most captains in the year groups 1999 through 2005 have been offered the opportunity to select a branch of choice, post of choice, military school, graduate level education, or Critical Skills Retention Bonus in exchange for an agreement to serve three additional years past any existing service obligations.

What continued efforts does Army have planned for the future?
The Army is developing a proposed menu of incentives to balance the distribution of officer quality across branches that are less attractive to young officers. The intent will be to provide cash inducements to officers to serve in branches that are perpetually understaffed due to special qualification requirements, highly technical skill sets, perceived difficulty for career advancement, or less attractive assignment locations. Officers who are willing to commit to service in shortage branches would receive a bonus. Additionally, the Army is developing non-monetary retention tools for commanders at all levels that compare the benefits of military service to careers in the civilian sector. The use of video vignettes, web-based interactive information sites, and personal outreach tools-that typically boost retention-will enable the direct interaction between senior leaders and their junior officers.

Why is this important to the Army?
Analysis of the Menu of 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 Army. Prior surveys concluded that 54 percent of captains polled intended to separate or were undecided about continuing their military career. Of those officers, 63 percent took an incentive and will now continue to serve until at least FY11. Providing information and incentives, at critical officer decision points, will make a significant difference in retaining critical experience in the Army officer corps.

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