Attrition: A Nice Gesture


April 29, 2007: The war on terror is forcing the military to pay very high bonuses to certain specialists. The U.S. Navy, for example, only has a few hundred EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) technicians. Those who have twenty years service, can retire on half pay, and take a safer, but similar, civilian job, and make more than they made while in the navy. The navy has about 150 EOD sailors who are currently eligible to retire. Many of these guys are under pressure from their families to do so, stay in one place and still make a good living. To encourage these sailors to remain in the navy a little longer, they are being offered them bonuses of up to $25,000 a year, for re-enlisting for up to six years. For the most senior EOD specialists, the navy offers a $20,000 bonus for one year. If the navy can get two thirds of these senior NCO EOD specialists to take the bonus deal, they can avoid a manning problem (and be at 95 percent strength in EOD detachments.)

Normally, navy EOD technicians do stay in one place for long periods, and don't undergo much more risk than do civilian EOD teams. But because of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, navy EOD personnel have been going there to help out the army and marine EOD teams. This means higher casualties and more time away from the family. Retiring at twenty begins to look very attractive. The cash bonuses alone are not what keeps a lot of these veteran sailors in, but also the gesture the bonus offer represents. It says that the navy really, really values your service, and would like you to stick around.




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