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ARLINGTON, Va. — With 30,000 billets to fill in the next two years and missions in Iraq and Afghanistan to man for the foreseeable future, the Army is hoping to entice sailors and airmen to switch uniforms.

The Army’s new “Operation Blue to Green” program is designed to attract members of the Air Force and Navy, which unlike the Army are trying to shave the size of their respective forces.

The Army began working on the program about four months ago, and a few finishing touches remain before the program is launched, according to Brig. Gen. Sean Byrne, the Army’s Director of Military Personnel Policy.

But the Army already has posted an advertisement for Blue to Green on its Web site, www.goarmy.com, as was first reported by U.S. News & World Report.

Meanwhile, over the next 14 months, Army recruiters will go to Navy and Air Force bases to talk to servicemembers who might be eligible for the transfer program, Byrne said in a Friday roundtable discussion with Pentagon reporters.

“We are going to actively recruit these [servicemembers], with the full concurrence and support” of the Navy and Air Force, Byrne said.

Such servicemembers are attractive to the Army because “It’s a population that has already served and been successful in their career,” he said.

The new program is particularly focused on sailors and airmen in grades E-1 to E-5, Byrne said, as well as “some junior officers with the skills we need.”

Selectees will undergo a four-week version of boot camp that the Army is calling the “Warrior Transition Course,” to be held at Fort Knox, Ky., Byrne said.

The Warrior course will replace the normal nine-week boot camp the Army uses to train individuals with prior experience from other services who move into the Army.

The goal is to ensure that “there’s no break in service” for those who are selected for the program, Byrne said – including ensuring that servicemembers receive a continuous paycheck and no interruptions to medical and other benefits.

The Army is looking in particular for enlisted personnel whose Air Force Specialty Code or Navy rate convert directly to an Army Military Occupational Specialty, Byrne said.

Army personnel specialists have found 120 AFSCs that translate directly into 37 Army MOSs. Army MOS categories are broader than the Air Force’s, Byrne explained.

The Navy has 112 ratings that translate directly into 42 Army MOSs, Byrne said.

Servicemembers whose AFSC or rate transfer directly into an MOS will receive any enlistment bonus that the Army currently offers for that skill, Byrne said.

The Army will also consider accepting airmen and sailors whose specialty does not directly convert to the Army MOS, but who are willing to reclassify and learn a new skill the Army needs, Byrne said.

Airmen and sailors who are reclassifying will also receive any bonus that is available for their new MOS, Byrne said.

Those servicemembers will naturally require additional skills training once they graduate from the Warrior course, Byrne said.

Bonuses aren’t guaranteed for servicemembers who sign up for Blue to Green.

But such stipends are relatively plentiful in the Army — 190 out of the Army’s 345 MOSs have a signing bonus, Byrne said. For MOSs that offer bonuses, the average stipend for a three-year enlistment is $4,200, while the average bonus for a six-year hitch is $8,300, Byrne said.

— For more information on Operation Blue to Green, go to www.goarmy.com/btg/index.htm


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