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NAPLES, Italy — Thousands of sailors will lose millions of re-enlistment dollars as the Navy makes drastic changes to its Selective Reenlistment Bonus program next month.

The Navy announced the revamped bonus levels in a fleetwide message last week, listing changes to hundreds of job specialties across three enlistment zones that range from the first-term sailor to those with up to 14 years of service.

The change affects more than 33,000 sailors. The SRB budget was cut by $45 million from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2009, according to Navy Personnel Command officials.

In all, 446 SRBs were decreased or eliminated. A handful of job specialty ratings maintained their current bonus levels, and 69 job bonuses went up. Those increases were primarily in nuclear engineering, ballistic missile defense, computer and special warfare.

Individuals in those specialties can receive as much as $90,000 for a single bonus, particularly in the nuclear engineering field. But even those bonuses might be reduced by October.

"Because this is a market-based bonus, and because we’re in unprecedented times, it’s expected additional award levels revisions will occur this fiscal year," according to Navy Personnel Command.

The SRB program is meant to reward sailors with critical job skills who might otherwise be tempted to take higher paying jobs in the civilian sector. But in the current ailing economy, a steady paycheck — minus any bonus — may be incentive enough to retain many sailors in critical job fields.

"Incentivizing any rating is market driven," reads information posted on the command Web site, which noted "the nation’s economic downturn" accounts for a decreased need for economic incentives in many Navy job fields.

More information on re-enlistment bonuses and other Navy force shaping issues is available on the Navy Personnel Command Web site at

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