ARLINGTON, Va. — If Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly has his way, Army reservists
will soon have access to a more generous set of bonuses, including the new
lump-sum bonus for soldiers who re-enlist while deployed to Kuwait,
Iraq or Afghanistan now only available to active-duty soldiers.
In a Tuesday meeting with Pentagon reporters, the chief of the Army Reserve
said that he "will be sending forward a package in the next couple of weeks" to
Helmly said he wants to extend the active Army's skills-specific Selective
Reenlistment Bonuses, or SRBs, to reservists.
SRBs are bonuses offered to qualified active-duty soldiers who re-enlist for
continued duty in certain military occupational specialties (MOSs). They are
based on specialty, grade and time in service, and can be lucrative for
soldiers in understaffed MOSs.
The same kinds of bonuses could help the Reserve with its own understaffed
MOSs, such as military police, Helmly said.
"I believe by applying a focused SRB process [to the Reserve] you begin to
attack the higher-skilled MOSs where [the Reserve are] having problems,"
Helmly also wants to offer monetary incentives for experienced soldiers to
join undermanned reserve units.
Such soldiers are not only proven commodities, but the Reserve's failure to
work harder to attract soldiers fresh off their active Army contracts has cost
the Reserve enormously over the years, he said.
"The active-component soldier leaving active duty ... has already active
duty. They have acculturated themselves to Army values. They're disciplined;
they're trained in some skill," Helmly said.
Meanwhile, "today, it costs an average of $105,000 to recruit every nonprior
service" soldier into the force, Helmly said. "Out of that, we have a
first-term attrition rate of about 35 [percent] to 37 percent."
With prior-service soldiers, "You're not going to run a 37 percent attrition
rate," Helmly said. "You're probably going to run less than 5 percent. Yet,
there's no bonus for active-duty soldiers to join the Reserve in selected
Helmly said he also will ask Army leaders to expand a tax-free, lump-sum
bonus worth at least $5,000, that went into effect in late December for
soldiers deployed to Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
The bonus, which is calculated using a soldier's base pay, years of service,
and length of reenlistment, is currently available only to active-duty
As of Thursday, 529 soldiers had taken the bonus, according to Lt. Col.
Franklin Childress, a spokesman for Army personnel issues.
"It's a very popular program," Childress said in a Thursday telephone
interview. "It appears to be doing what it is intended to do," which is to
encourage combat-experienced soldiers to stay with the Army.
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