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Army limits re-enlistment options for rest of fiscal year

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (July 01, 2009) -- In an effort to slow the momentum of what has been an exceptionally productive year in recruiting and retention, the Army has limited re-enlistment options during the last three months of fiscal year 2009.

"Due to the Army's great success in growing the force and meeting and exceeding our retention mission, the Army has been taking steps to slow retention and overproduction for the remainder of the fiscal year," said Sgt. Maj. Dean Drummond, Army Senior Career Counselor, G-1 Army Retention.

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"These steps have included reductions in retention bonuses, reductions in the number of military occupational specialties eligible for a selective re-enlistment bonus, suspension of the retention mission and most recently, two-year re-enlistments."

In a DA retention policy message released June 25, the Army spelled out changes to re-enlistment option eligibility. According to the policy message, if Soldiers want to re-enlist between June 27 and Sept. 30, they may be limited to a two-year re-enlistment under the "Regular Army Re-enlistment" option.

By the beginning of fiscal year 2010, which begins Oct. 1, the Army will rescind the policy memo and reinstate all regular re-enlistment options, Drummond said.

"The total concept of what we are doing, keeping five options available for Soldiers, is not going to change," Drummond said. "What this does is just eliminate the options that they may have been able to receive for the remainder of this year and move them until Oct. 1."

The four re-enlistment options off the table until the end of the fiscal year include the current station stabilization re-enlistment, the Army training re-enlistment, the overseas assignment re-enlistment, and the CONUS station-of-choice re-enlistment.

According to the policy message, there are exceptions to the temporary policy. Soldiers scheduled to return before Oct. 31 from overseas contingency operations such as Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are exempt and are entitled to all re-enlistment options.

"It does not affect those units," Drummond said. "We have a number of units out there from the brigade combat teams all the way down to battalion and company levels with unit identification codes that are deployed. Those Soldiers that are out there are eligible to receive all options as if nothing has changed -- as long as they are redeploying prior to Oct. 31."

Additional exemptions from the temporary policy include Soldiers in over-manned career fields. They may re-enlist for three or more years in order to meet the retainability requirements for moving into a new career field.

Soldiers in the rank of staff sergeant and above, who have 10 or more years service, are required to re-enlist under the provisions of the indefinite re-enlistment program. Additionally, Soldiers participating in the bonus extension and retraining program, known as BEAR, can re-enlist in accordance with their program agreement.

The temporary policy has the effect of stopping re-enlistment bonuses for some -- as a requirement for those bonuses is a three-year or more re-enlistment. Soldiers hoping to reenlist and receive such a bonus, if they meet the requirements to receive a reenlistment bonus, will have to wait until the new fiscal year begins and reenlist then.

Some Soldiers who want to re-enlist, however, will be forced to re-enlist during the last quarter of fiscal year 2009, because their re-enlistment window -- though a full two years long -- will end during that period. Those Soldiers will have to re-enlist for two years, and then re-enlist again inside the new fiscal year if they want to stay in longer.

"But most of the Soldiers that have waited to the last minute have re-enlisted prior to this message going out," Drummond said. "So it only affects those who have been on the wire."

Drummond said even those Soldiers will still be able to eventually get a re-enlistment bonus.

"If you've done two years and you re-enlist for six years, you are actually in sense adding four more years," Drummond said. "But that's all you'll get a bonus for is four more years, not six."

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