The Army is laying out massive bonuses in an effort to recruit more infantrymen by the end of the fiscal year.
In mid-May, the Army increased the bonus for new recruits who select infantry or indirect fire crewman — 11B or 11C military occupational specialties — from a max of $15,000 to $40,000, depending on the length of the initial contract, Army Recruiting Command public affairs director Kelli Bland said in an email.
The Army has about 3,300 training seats to fill for their 11X MOS series by Sept. 30 — the end of the fiscal year.
The $40,000 bonus is available for recruits joining for six-year enlistments, Military.com first reported. A three-year enlistment will net recruits a $20,000 bonus, four years gets $25,000 and five-year terms of service earn $30,000.
“This is only in effect for the current fiscal year, so individuals who want to take advantage of this bonus must ship to basic training prior to Sept. 30,” Bland said.
Infantry isn’t all the Army is pushing for, however. For potential recruits not interested in the grunt life, but who are still ready to ship to basic training within the next 60 days, the service is offering quick-ship bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $16,000, depending on ASVAB scores and exact ship date.
The Army also has critical skills bonuses up to $25,000 for those who select fire control specialist, 13J, and M1 armor crewman, 19K, as their occupational specialty.
Service leaders have been working to grow to a 500,000-strong active-duty force by the end of the next decade. Last year, recruiting efforts fell short, forcing the service to readjust their approach in 2019.
The Army missed its active-duty recruiting goal by 6,500 in 2018, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Congress in March, and by another 3,000 in the Army Reserve and National Guard.
Part of the reason for the tough recruiting has to do with the economy. When times are good, Americans tend not to turn to military service in high numbers.
“It’s a difficult market because it’s a very healthy job market,” said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy during a roundtable with reporters last week. “This environment is as challenging as we’ve faced — 3.6 percent unemployment. We have no benchmark historically for the all-volunteer force.”
The Army has also tried to push for soldiers in a handful of over-strength career fields to either reclassify themselves, or have it done for them.
Some soldiers in engineering, aviation, medical and other fields who are looking to reenlist might be forced to reclassify starting May 30, according to Milper message 19-154.
“Ideally, the Army wants soldiers in the overage MOSs to reclassify into the shortage MOSs,” the message said.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.