Attrition: Securing Scarce Sailors


September 7, 2009: After halting their re-enlistment bonus program last June, the U.S. Navy has decided to resume paying these bonuses, of up to $90,000, to sailors in 179 different job. The navy calls these bonus-worthy jobs, "critical skills," and the navy thought that cutting all the bonuses out might work, because of the recession. The navy didn't have much choice, because budget cuts, and more demands on the fleet, caused a critical cash shortage. So the bonuses were halted, and the navy found that they were losing people (SEALs, tech experts, intel specialists) they could not really afford to see go. So, starting October 1st (the start of Fiscal 2010), the bonuses are back. And critical people who are approaching their separation date (the end of their current contract), are being told to wait for an offer they can't (the navy hopes) refuse.

The bonus problem is actually a part of the current navy downsizing program, which is trying to get rid of people it doesn't need (not possessing needed skills) or want (disciplinary or physical fitness problems).while keeping those who are needed. But too many people want to stay. That is, more sailors want to stay in once their enlistment contracts are up. This is particularly the case with sailors serving their first term (usually four years.) The navy expects half of them to re-enlist, but currently, 62 percent are doing so. First term re-enlistments are particularly valuable, because it's easier to put these men and women in specialties that are growing. Many of the older sailors are in jobs that are no longer needed, and it's more expensive to retrain older, and higher ranking, personnel. The growing number of sailors eager to stay in has allowed the navy to reduce re-enlistment bonuses, and raise performance standards in general.

The bonus program is meant to keep people who have been in for a while, and acquired skills that are difficult to get, and very valuable to the navy. SEAL commandos are one of the obvious examples, but there are many technical specialties that are not as well known, but just as essential. All of these critical skill people can get better paying, less stressful, and not as dangerous, jobs on the outside. Keeping them in uniform requires changes in how they work (not going overseas as often), in addition to big bonuses.

The navy currently has a strength of 332,000, and wants to get that down to 326,000 within the next two years, while not losing scarce, hard-to-train and difficult-to-keep technical specialists. Another way to downsize effectively is to raise all sorts of standards, forcing out those who don't measure up. This includes going after, well, appearance. The navy has already cracked down on sailors and officers who are overweight. Many more sailors are dieting and showing up at the gym regularly. In the new navy, it's often the case that only the lite survive



Article Archive

Attrition: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close