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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army is hoping to jump-start sagging summer recruiting efforts by offering a $20,000 bonus to any recruit willing to ship out within 30 days.

The “Quick Shipper” bonus is open to any recruit, regardless of which Army job he agrees to take, according to Lt. Col. Darryl Darden, a spokesman for Army personnel issues in the Pentagon.

The bonus is in effect only until the end of September, Darden told Stripes on Tuesday, and is available only to active-duty recruits.

Soldiers won’t collect any of the cash until they reach their first permanent duty station — after they complete basic training and their advanced individual training school.

At that point, they get $10,000, Darden said. The rest of the money will be paid out in annual installments over the lifetime of the soldier’s contract, however long that may be.

Soldiers typically sign up for four-year hitches, but sign-up bonuses are larger for those who are willing to commit for six years. And training seats in schools for some highly sought-after jobs (Military Occupational Specialties, MOSs, in Army- speak) are easier to secure — or only available — for recruits signing up for six years.

The Quick Shipper bonus went into effect July 25, Darden said. A similar bonus that paid up to $15,000 existed before this bonus began, he said, but that money was also tied to MOSs: Recruits had to agree to sign up for jobs the Army needs soldiers to man, as well as ship out within 30 days, to get a bonus that ranged from $5,000 to $15,000.

Darden told Stripes it “will probably take about a week” before recruiters begin to get a sense of whether the bonus is appealing to potential recruits.

The Army’s recruiting goal for the year is 80,000 active-duty soldiers, the same as in the past two years, which the service achieved despite the continuing pressures of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, despite the service’s efforts to add recruiters and bonus money to sweeten the pot, cracks are beginning to show. In May, the Army failed to meet its recruiting goals for the first time in two years. Recruiters missed their goals by 7 percent.

Not only was it the second month in a row they missed target, perhaps more ominous for recruiters: June’s shortfall was 15 percent more than twice the May figure.

Moreover, the late spring and early summer months, when seniors graduate and the realities of the local job market begin to hit home, have in the past traditionally been strongest for military recruiters.

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