The U.S. Army has, for a second year in a row, offered cash bonuses to
captains who agree to stay in for three more years. The amounts offered
($25,000-35,000) vary according to branch, with air defense, engineer, finance,
quartermaster, signal corps, nurses and medical administration officers getting
the lower amounts, and those in aviation, field artillery, infantry, military
intelligence, transportation, and health services getting the most. Those in
the middle ($30,000) are adjutant general, armor, chemical, military police and
program was first offered last year, 67 percent of the 18,000 eligible captains
took the offer. But the army was hoping 85 percent would go for it. The biggest
complaint right now is the amount of time spent in a combat zone, away from the
family. Most captains are not actually in combat, it's the separation from
family that is most annoying. Captains in command of combat units are most
likely to stay in, as long as they are in command. That is usually not the
case, with most captains being in non-command jobs. This is annoying as well.
moment, the army is short 3,700 captains. Captains comprise the single largest
rank in the army (28 percent of the 85,000 army officers are captains). These
officers generally have been in service 3-10 years, which is not so long that
they can't easily switch to another career. Moreover, the current generation of
officers expect to have many careers, so they see it as quite normal to stay in
the army for 5-10 years, then move on to another career. The army, however,
cannot go hire captains from somewhere else, the same way a company might
replace a mid-level manager by just placing a want ad. The army has to recruit, train and "grow" its
own captains. This takes 4-5 years (training and time served in lower ranks).
Thus it pays to offer large bonuses to encourage captains to stick around.