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The Navy exceeded its overall re-enlistment goal for fiscal 2008, but not by much.

A Navy administrative message released last week detailed the categories in which the Navy met its goals and those where the service fell short.

For sailors with six years’ service or less, and sailors with six to 10 years’ service, re-enlistments surpassed the Navy’s goals by about 2 percent. For those with 10 to 14 years of service, however, the Navy missed its retention goal by about 2 percent. Actual re-enlistment figures were not included in the message.

One contributing factor for retention was fewer sailors getting kicked out of the service due to physical fitness failures, substance abuse or medical disability, according to the Navy message.

Looking ahead to fiscal 2009, the Navy raised retention goals in all categories, hoping to achieve 54 percent retention for those with 6 years or less, 63 percent for those with 6 to 10 years and 81 percent for those with 10 to 14 years of service.

Navy officials point to external factors such as the economy, the war on terrorism and even the new GI Bill, giving servicemembers greater educational benefits when they leave the service, as factors influencing decisions to stay in the military.

Internal factors can also affect retention, such as re-enlistment bonuses paid to sailors in certain career fields, as well as monetary bonuses for those who choose to stay overseas.

"The re-enlistment bonuses definitely help, along with advancement opportunities," said Petty Officer 1st Class Jorge Delgado, the command career counselor for Naval Support Activity Naples. "But it’s not always about the money. If you keep your sailors happy, they’ll be proud to stay in the Navy."

Smaller gains in retention may be viewed as beneficial in the long-run, since the Navy is actually looking to shrink the force by about 8,000 sailors in the next 3 years.

"Navy’s active duty force ended FY-08 at approximately 332,000," according to the message. The service is working toward "reaching a steady state of approximately 326,000 by the end of 2011."

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