ARLINGTON, Va. — Working to correct a shortfall of captains in the reserve components that predates the war on terror, the Army is offering incentive bonuses to the general warrant and officer corps for the first time in modern history.

Two new, lump-sum $6,000 bonuses are now in effect: an “affiliation” bonus for active-duty officers and warrant officers to prompt them to sign up for service with National Guard or Army Reserve, and an “accessions” bonus for some newly commissioned officers if they are in a critical specialty or agree to re-train into one after joining the reserve components.

Congress authorized the bonuses in the 2005 defense budget, according to Col. Mark Patterson, Officer Division chief in the Army’s Directorate of Military Personnel Management.

The accessions bonus is reserved for individuals to be commissioned as officers, including enlisted personnel in all Army components who are eligible for an officer commission.

To be eligible for the $6,000 bonus, individuals must attend either Officer Candidate School, a college or university’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program without a scholarship, or receive a direct commission without attending either program.

The law prohibits the Army from giving the $6,000 to new officers with ROTC scholarships or West Point degrees. Receiving a bonus on top of a taxpayer-funded education would be “double-dipping,” Patterson said in a Thursday interview in his Pentagon office.

To get the bonus, eligible officers or officer candidates must also agree to specialize in a branch the reserve components have defined as “critical,” finish Officer Basic Course in that branch and commit to serving in a reserve unit for six years, Patterson said.

The new affiliation bonus is open to all ranks, Patterson said, but is primarily designed to encourage all warrant officers and branch officers in the ranks of major and below and who are leaving active duty to join the National Guard or Army Reserve for at least three years instead of going into the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).

The Army’s IRR is made up of are soldiers who still have a legal obligation to serve in the military reserves, as well as officers who have not reached their retirement or resigned their commissions. IRR soldiers can be called up in case of national emergency, but they do not drill on a regular basis.

Officers in the IRR who have never served in the National Guard or Army Reserve also are eligible for the $6,000 affiliation bonus, Patterson said.

For information on the accession bonus, please contact your military personnel office for the Army National Guard or U.S. Army Reserve. For information on the affiliation bonus, contact a reserve component career counselor, available at all Army transition centers.

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