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DoD, Congress Contemplate Special Pays, Bonuses

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 1999 – DoD is working with Congress to create three new special pays and to beef up others, DoD officials said.

The services use special pays and incentives to retain members in critical military specialties. Special pays are even older than the Republic -- the first was a Continental Army enlistment bonus offered in 1776. It was an extra $6 per month.

If Congress agrees, DoD will offer three new special pays in fiscal 2000: career enlisted flier incentive pay, special warfare officer pay and surface warfare officer pay. The whole package is a part of the fiscal 2000 Defense Authorization Bill.

The career enlisted flier incentive pay is aimed at retention in all the services. Those who qualify would receive the pay as long as their operational flying duty requirements are met. The proposed pay ceiling is $400 per month. Enlisted fliers currently qualify for hazardous duty incentive pay and receive $150 to $240 a month.

Special warfare officers special pay would be limited to Navy SEALs. Officers would receive up to $80,000 if they stay as Navy SEALs through their 14th year of commissioned service.

The special pay for surface warfare officers if accepted would allow lump-sum bonuses of up to $50,000 to officers who agree to complete their full tours of duty.

One proposed change in current special pays is an increase in the selective re-enlistment bonus. The ceiling would rise to $60,000 from the current $45,000. Few service members receive the maximum, DoD officials said, but the Navy, seeking to retain nuclear-trained sailors, came close to the $45,000 ceiling. Another change would let DoD pay service members their selective re-enlistment bonuses after 17 months of service rather than the current 21 months.

Other proposals include:

  • An increase in foreign language proficiency pays ceiling from $100 per month to $300 per month.
  • An increase in the enlistment bonus ceiling from $12,000 to $20,000.
  • An increase in special pay and bonuses for nuclear- qualified officers. These officers now receive a $10,000 accession bonus. When their active duty commitment ends, they can receive a $12,000 bonus if they agree to serve an additional year. Those who agree to a multiyear contract receive $15,000 per year. The Navy seeks to raise the ceiling for each by $10,000.
  • A $40 monthly increase for divers -- to $340 for enlisted divers and $240 for officers.

The proposals would allow the services to target special pays to achieve narrow, precise recruiting and retention goals, according to DoD officials. In conjunction with proposed pay raises and military retirement reform, officials expect these proposals to improve DoD's ability to attract and retain the best people.

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