The Pentagon has reneged on an offer to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years.
The tax-free bonuses were offered in January to Active Guard and Reserve and military technician soldiers who were serving overseas. At the time, the bonuses were touted "as giving Soldiers in theater who are thinking about getting out another reason to stay in the Army."
“Some people who are sitting on the fence ... are now re-enlisting for the money,” said Sgt. 1st Class David H. Owen, retention noncommissioned officer for the New York National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division at Task Force Danger, Iraq.
And with no end in sight for the Iraq War, the military seemingly needed any advantage it could find to reverse a recent recruiting shortfall.
But three months later, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs ordered the bonuses stopped — supposedly because it duplicated other bonus programs offered. Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, confirming the bonuses had been canceled, said she didn't know whether they would have to be repaid. Sort of goes against the whole "be all you can be" concept, huh?
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a leading Capitol Hill critic of management of the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, told the Tacoma News-Tribune she didn’t know why the bonuses were dropped.
“This is outrageous,” the senator said in a telephone interview. “It makes me angry that this administration has broken another promise to our troops.” Murray told the newspaper that, upon learning the bonuses were no more earlier this month, she wrote Thomas Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, asking that he reverse himself and reinstate the bonus program.
But Krenke said the Pentagon would have no comment on Murray’s letter to Hall.
This item first appeared at Journalists Against Bush's B.S.