Enlisted Marines willing to sign up for another term and serve in some of the Corps' most in-demand fields will have the chance to pocket tens of thousands of dollars, officials announced Monday.
Marine Corps officials released fiscal 2019 Selective Retention Bonus Program details, which include new re-up "kickers" for air traffic controllers and infantry squad leaders. And first-term Marines willing to make a lateral move into one of a dozen tough-to-fill jobs could qualify for a $40,000 bonus, although those bonuses can't be coupled with any kickers.
When combined with the traditional SRBs offered annually, Marines serving in intelligence, recruiting, aircraft maintenance and dozens of other military occupational specialties could be eligible to pocket up to $90,000 in bonus cash, according to Marine administrative message 370/18.
The Marine Corps has budgeted $136 million for this effort.
"Selective-retention bonuses are offered every year in MOSs where we need to ensure there's been an investment in that field," an official with the Marine Corps' Manpower and Reserve Affairs told Military.com. "Whether they're first-term Marines or careerists in that field, we want to incentivize them into staying when their skill sets are needed on the outside as well."
This year's SRB program includes four "kickers," which could be paid out to Marines in addition to the MOS-specific bonuses being offered. There are four ways for Marines to qualify for one of the kicker bonuses:
- They submit their re-enlistment packages early -- between July 5 and Sept. 30 -- in one of 50 specified primary MOSs. Those Marines will rate an extra $10,000 early re-enlistment kicker.
- They volunteer for one of three special-duty assignments: drill instructor, recruiter or Marine security guard detachment commander. Those Marines will rate an extra $20,000 SDA kicker.
- Marines in specific aircraft-maintenance MOSs with certain qualifications agree to serve at least half of their four-year re-enlistment in that same field. Those Marines will rate an extra $20,000 aircraft-maintenance kicker bonus.
- Marines serving as air-traffic controllers -- or those who enter a contract with the intent to do so -- who re-up for 48 months will rate a $20,000 air-traffic controller kicker.
Marine officials hope the new kicker bonuses for air-traffic controllers and squad leaders will help the service retain noncommissioned officers with those important skills. Air-traffic controllers are in demand in the civilian workforce, leading many Marines to pursue opportunities outside the Corps. And too many infantry Marines are leaving their units to pick up special-duty assignments or other opportunities that can help advance their career, the manpower official said.
"We're incentivizing folks to stay in the operating forces and stay with their infantry units so we can take advantage of their skills and experience and make them squad leaders," the official said.
The kicker bonuses were highly effective in 2018, said Yvonne Carlock, a spokeswoman for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. The early re-enlistment kicker resulted in more than 2,000 submissions above average. Last year's SDA kicker yielded 1,000 more volunteers, and 672 qualified Marines opted to remain in flying squadrons, she said.
First-term Marines, those considered Zone A, in 42 MOSs qualify for a 2019 selective retention bonus. The highest payouts -- between $40,000 and $50,000 depending on rank -- go to Marines serving in the following fields: counterintelligence, reconnaissance, critical skills operators, cyberspace, explosive ordnance disposal, skill designator, and aviation logistics information management system specialists.
Any kickers for which Marines qualify would be paid out on top of those amounts, but can't be combined with the $40,000 lateral-move bonuses. That bonus is offered to Zone-A Marines willing to move into counterintel, imagery analysis, recon, infantry squad leader, critical skills operator, psychological operations, cyber, explosive ordnance technician, skill designator, operational contract support, Marine Corps community services, or criminal investigative division agent.
First-term Marines willing to go into counterintel would earn the $40,000 lateral-move bonus plus up to a $50,000 SRB, depending on rank. Similarly, those who make a lat-move into the Squad Leader Development Program could earn up to $70,000 -- $40,000 for the lateral move and up to a $30,000 SRB.
Marines with between six and 10 years of service, those considered Zone B, in 33 MOSs will qualify for 2019 SRBs. Seven of those MOSs offer up to $50,000, in addition to possible kicker bonuses. Specialties with top payouts include: counterintel, recon, critical skills operator, cyberspace, explosive ordnance disposal and skill designator.
Career Marines with 10 to 14 years in could qualify for up to $30,000 in SRBs, plus kicker funds. The highest SRB payouts for Zone C Marines top out at $30,000 for counterintel, recon, critical skills operators, cyber and EOD techs.
Critical skills operators with 18 to 20 years on active duty can also qualify for a $50,000 SRB, according to the MARADMIN.
Marines are encouraged to review the full bulletin details and meet with their career planners to ensure they meet all the bonus requirements.
-- Gina Harkins can be reached at email@example.com.