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The 8th U.S. Army has a goal of re-enlisting 2,856 of its soldiers in fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30, according to spokesman Capt. Kone T. Faulkner.

Master Sgt. Robert Bates of the 8th Army Retention Office said that some three months before that deadline, the 8th Army had met 78 percent of that goal.

In 2003, it hit 127 percent of its retention target and in 2004 achieved 112 percent, according to data provided by Faulkner.

“Eighth Army has been successful for years in retention,” Bates said. “Soldiers like being in the Army here. They like the realistic training that goes on here in South Korea and they like doing their jobs.”

The assignment incentive pay program, which offers soldiers financial incentives to extend their tours in South Korea, has helped retention, he said.

“Retention is going through a lot of changes,” Faulkner said. “As the war on terror progresses, more options are available.”

A program that opened in June lets soldiers in South Korea re-enlist up to two years before their end-term-of-service, or ETS, date.

“That gives them more flexibility,” he said. Previously soldiers had to be within 12 months of their ETS to enlist with options.

From 18 to 24 months before ETS, solders can re-enlist to take advantage of a bonus offered for their military specialty, Faulkner said. Within 18 months, they can re-enlist for a continental U.S. or overseas station of choice or retrain into another specialty, he added.

The Army is no different from civilian corporations, U.S. Forces Korea Command Sgt. Maj. Barry Wheeler said earlier this month on an American Forces Network call-in radio show.

“We want to keep our good people and you sure can’t blame us for that,” he said.

He said the military invests a lot of money into training and developing its troops.

“Right now is a challenge,” he said, “and I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t with the global war on terrorism and … deployments and those kind of things.

“The good news is you’d be amazed at how many of them continue to serve and want to stay and see the job finished,” Wheeler said. “But we are going through some challenges right now. So we need every good subordinate, every good servicemember, to hang in there. We need them to continue to serve because there is no more honorable service than that to your nation.

“It’s not time to hit the panic button yet,” he said.


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