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Bonus Doesn't Excite Troops
Agence France-Presse
March 4, 2004

They're staying on because they love Army life or are getting out because they're sick of it, and the 10,000-dollar bonus offered to reenlist is not a factor, said U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

"Not even a million dollars" would make Corporal Will Tate stay on after his four-year stint is over in July, he said as he burned waste material on a cliff overlooking the Tigris River near his base in Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit.

"I haven't seen my family in one and a half years," added the soldier from the 4th Infantry Division (4ID), saying his future career in law enforcement back home in Arkansas would let him "progress a lot faster and further" than in the Army.

First Lieutenant Colin Crow, from Louisiana, said the extra cash might be an incentive for some troops, but for most soldiers "it's not the money, it's the guys you're serving with and the job you're doing."

The U.S. Army has decided to offer bonuses of up to 10,000 dollars to troops who agree to extend their tours in Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan.

The size of the bonus runs according to speciality, rank and length of extension.

The offer comes as the Army is embarking on a massive and complex rotation of its forces in Iraq, with some 125,000 U.S. troops due to be deployed out of the region in the coming months and replaced by others.

Soldiers from the 4ID in Tikrit are among those to be rotated out over the coming months.

Private First Class David Quintero, from Texas, said he believed the bonus might encourage "soldiers who are sitting on the fence over to reenlist."

"But if I had something better lined up in the private sector I probably wouldn't," he said as he sat in his Humvee vehicle on the Army base here in the palace compound of the ousted Iraqi leader.

At Kirkush military training centre, near Iraq's eastern border with Iran, where a handful of 4ID troops are posted to help train the New Iraqi Army, Major Richard Caya said he would not be tempted away from his young family.

"For me it's personal, I need to spend time with my wife and watch my kids grow," he said.

The Army announced on Monday that it would extend the tours of thousands of soldiers in Iraq who were due to end their service or retire before their units' return home. Some 7,000 soldiers in Iraq fall into that category.

A similar order is already in effect for members of Army Reserve units and for active duty soldiers scheduled to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan, an Army spokesman said.

Some soldiers in Tikrit said they just might be tempted by the offer of up to 10,000 dollars to stay on in a country where hundreds of their colleagues have been killed by anti-coalition fighters.

Specialist Mai Truong, taking some time out to pump some iron at the improvised gym in 1-22 battalions' headquarters, was one.

"That would catch my eye," said the 24-year-old Texan. "But I'd have to talk to my wife."

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Copyright 2004 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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