Army Offers Big Bonuses, Races to Sign 10,000 New Recruits in 3 Days

Capt. Kimberly McCarty after a simulated chemical attack during Exercise Lightning Forge.
Capt. Kimberly McCarty, the commander of the 319th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, generates a situation report after a simulated chemical attack during Exercise Lightning Forge on Oahu, Hawaii on July 25, 2018. (U.S. Army/ Staff Sgt. Rory Featherston)

The U.S. Army plans to offer hefty bonuses -- some up to $40,000 -- to new recruits who sign up for nine skill specialties the service still needs to recruit before the end of the fiscal year.

The bonuses are part of the final push to meet the Army's end-strength goal of 485,000 by Sept. 30. Recruiting officials hope to sign up 10,000 new recruits alone during the service's first nationwide virtual hiring campaign scheduled for June 30-July 2.

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"We are going after 10,000 ... over these three days," Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, commander of Army Recruiting Command, told defense reporters today during a phone-in discussion.

The three-day event -- which will include all Army senior leaders as well as recruiters -- is an attempt to make up some ground the Army lost after its decision to temporarily shutter its recruiting stations and shift to 100% virtual recruiting in mid-March to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Army had just begun to recover from a recruiting shortfall in fiscal 2018, when it missed its goal by 6,500 soldiers. The service surpassed its recruiting goal for fiscal 2019 after launching a broad recruiting strategy that targeted 22 major cities and leveraged social media to connect with Generation Z.

The Army needs to recruit somewhere between 63,000 and 67,000 recruits by Sept. 30, Muth said, adding that the exact number will depend on the Army's retention numbers.

In late April, the Army increased its retention goal by 2,000 after surpassing its original retention goal of 50,200 in early March. It quickly reached 51,000 after that. Many soldiers decided to reenlist rather than face an uncertain future in a civilian job market that's still struggling under the effects of COVID-19.

"We are doing very well on retention," said E. Casey Wardynski, assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, who added that the service has already retained 52,700 soldiers.

The Army still needs to recruit soldiers into ten military occupational skill specialties.

The Army is offering bonuses of up to $40,000 or student loan reimbursement up to $65,000 to soldiers that sign up for nine of the top 10 MOSs, depending on factors such as the MOS selected and the length of the contract, Army officials said.

Here is a list of the 10 ten MOSs eligible for bonuses:

  • 35P, Cryptologic Linguist, up to $40,000
  • 37F, Psychological Operations Specialist, up to $40,000
  • 14P, Air and Missile Defense Crewmember, up to $33,000
  • 13J, Fire Control Specialist, up to $28,000
  • 11X, Infantry, up to $27,000
  • 13M, Multiple Launch Rocket System Crewmember, up to $24,000
  • 89D, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist, up to $15,000
  • 19K, M1 Armor Crewman, up to $12,000
  • 74D, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Specialist, up to $7,000
  • 15W, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator, no enlistment bonus

The Army is also offering a special bonus of up to $2,000 for the three-day nationwide virtual hiring campaign "if you sign up in these days," Muth said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

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