Big retention bonuses

This has been getting some attention of late: Six-figure bonuses retain US commandos

The Pentagon has paid more than $100 million in bonuses to veteran Green Berets and Navy SEALs, reversing the flow of top commandos to the corporate world where security companies such as Blackwater USA are offering big salaries.

The retention effort, started nearly three years ago and overseen by U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., has helped preserve a small but elite group of enlisted troops with vast experience fighting the unconventional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Defense Department statistics.

Special Operations, particularly, is a tough place to bring new blood into. It takes years to develop top-notch personnel.

Charlie at Op-For writes:

The Army could do itself a huge favor by looking at how to identify and fix some of the reasons people want out in the first place –instead of paying off soldiers to stay in…This trend will continue until the military expands enough to alleviate deployment tempo, and looks at its soldier-care issues that lead to good soldiers becoming good civilians.

While there’s a lot of sense to this, I don’t mind seeing big bucks thrown in the direction of major league talent. There has been talk in favor of a draft from some directions lately, but I’d be happier sticking with the proven talent.

There’s a reason that a football team pays Peyton Manning bazillions of dollars instead of just drafting a cheap rookie to take his place.


  1. More social engineering of our military. Yeah, that’s just what we need. If we outsourced our special forces, we wouldn’t need to pay them bonuses. What the hell, we’re already outsourcing our spies. What could possibly go wrong?

  2. Excellent piece. I was stationed at Fire Base Ripley, outside of Tirin Kowt in Uruzgan province for a very short period early this year. It’s a base for the area’s Special Forces B Team, contractor led police mentoring and training programs, and gunship and CSAR ops. Talking ‘stuff’ and swapping stories with the SF guys, I was very surprised to hear the size of their compensation packages (which according to them had increased dramatically in the last year or so)……..they were also all very tired; looking and sounding like it. They were still all business and taking care of it well, but they’d been on continuous deployment for three years! Several were planning on opting out of the Military at their earliest opportunity. Can’t really blaim them.

  3. Yeah, maybe I’ll go get my uncle’s Congressional Medal of Honor and spit on it. It amounts to the same thing.