Attrition: Australia and New Incentives


December24, 2006: Australia is going to spend several hundred million dollars to attract new recruits, and to keep existing troops in uniform. Australia also wants to increase its troop strength by 6,000 over the next ten years.

Australia's volunteer armed forces have only 52,000 personnel. On a per capita basis, that's much smaller than the American volunteer force. For example, the U.S. has a population 14 times larger than Australia's, but has active duty armed forces (of 1.1 million) 21 times larger. Australia has always maintained very high standards for its recruits, and these standards may have to be lowered if they want to maintain their current strength. The major problem is a record low unemployment rate. The military has to compete with more attractive civilian jobs.

To make a military career more attractive, Australia is cutting some of the paperwork and waiting time for new recruits. Currently, recruits have to wait about 30 weeks before they start their service. This is being cut to six weeks. The military is also being more tolerant of tattoos, and other foibles of youth. It is also going to allow a thousand recruits to join for just one year. This is an experiment, because normally troops sign up for multi-year contracts. Following the successful experience in the United States and other countries, Australia is also developing a re-enlistment bonus system to keep needed troops in uniform.




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