MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
Now that the Corps has reached its goal of growing the force to 202,000 active duty Marines, numerous retention incentives planned for fiscal year 2010 were cut Jan. 14.
Among the incentives on the chopping block are 300 boat spaces for first-term Marines and some end-of-year bonus dollars. Plus, the Corps also plans to let some short-timers get out early.
“Because we’re still retaining our numbers, what better way is there to save money than cut from incentives?” said Staff Sgt. Marben Aquino, career retention specialist with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 here.
With the Corps increasing its population two years ahead of schedule coupled with tighter purse strings on the defense budget, paying people to stay in the ranks is no longer a priority, according to Marine Administrative Message 25/10.
“Due to our rapid growth and facing a more constrained fiscal environment, we must implement several cost-saving initiatives that will permit us to continue to shape and maintain the 202,000 force without exceeding our approved FY-10 budget,” stated the message.
The 300 re-enlistment spaces come from 26 different military occupational specialties, including administration clerk, military policeman and aircraft ordnance technician, according to MarAdmin 34/10, released Jan. 19.
Now, the Corps needs to retain 6,735, or 27.8 percent, of all its first-term Marines whose contracts expire between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30 in order to meets its goal.
The Corps’ yet-to-be-initiated voluntary “early-out” program will allow Marines who are nondeployable, who don’t want to re-enlist and whose commands can afford to lose them the chance to end their term 90 days early.
“Near the tail ends, if you’re not doing a deployment, you’re usually just waiting to get out,” said Aquino. “This is a way for Headquarters Marine Corps to cut their losses and save the funding it would take to keep those Marines for those 90 days.”
Additional details on the program will be announced in the future, stated the message.
The Corps also suspended the practice of using a current year’s bonus budget for Marines with end of active service dates in future years who are able to re-enlist early.
“On a case-by-case basis, HQMC approves out-of-fiscal-year re-enlistments,” said Aquino. “They’re just suspending that for the rest of FY-10.”
Furthermore, the Corps cut the budget for FY-10 4th quarter bonuses, which allow Marines to re-enlist three months before the fiscal year their contract expires. Since this takes funding from the FY-10 budget for FY-11 Marines, HQMC is reducing the funding for it, which will result in the bonuses disappearing faster, said Aquino.
Lastly, the combat extension program incentive was eliminated for the remainder of FY-10. This incentive allowed Marines to extend their contracts to complete a seven- or 12-month deployment for $3,000 or $6,000 bonus, respectively. However, the combat extension wasn’t cost effective, since the Marines still received increased pay for their deployment status, said Aquino.
Yet, despite less cash perks available, some say staying Marine should never be about the money.
“You should stay in because you enjoy the job and the lifestyle,” said Aquino. That’s important, because the incentives for 2011 will probably decrease across the board anyway.”