ARLINGTON, Va. — Hoping to slow the hemorrhage of Special Operations servicemembers who are leaving their military jobs to accept lucrative commercial work, Pentagon officials have set aside $168 million over three years — fiscal 2005 to 2007 — for a commando benefits package.

According to a story in Friday’s Christian Science Monitor, senior Pentagon leaders approved the bonus package Dec. 22.

Some of the funds for the bonuses will come from the upcoming 2006 budget proposal, which Congress will have to approve later this year, David Chu, the Pentagon’s under secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, told the Monitor.

Other funds will come from the already-approved fiscal 2005 defense supplemental budget.

Both junior and senior members of the Special Operations will benefit from the bonuses, according to the story, with lump-sum payments totally as much as $150,000 going to the most experienced individuals — operators with 19-years or more as part of the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Forces, the Navy’s SEALs, the Air Force pararescuemen and combat controllers, and other Special Operations troops.

“We are offering handsome rewards to agree to substantial service beyond 20 years. That’s a new objective,” Chu told the Monitor. “We’re reaching a point ... where we’re going to want more Special Operators to stay past 20 years of service than has been true historically, and particularly to be successful in the war on terror.”

The total amount of the benefits will be $168 million over three fiscal years, beginning in fiscal year 2005, which began last October, and lasting though fiscal 2007, which ends Oct. 1, 2007, according to Army Lt. Col. Joseph Richard, a Pentagon spokesman.

There are about 49,000 members of the Special Operations community. The bonuses are intended only for those specifically designated as “operators,” which generally includes those individuals who spend of the most of their time performing tactical operations, mostly in the field, Richard said.

Richard outlined some of the details of the package on Friday, although questions remain about when the benefits will begin and whether they will be retroactive.

Richard said that each service would “issue detailed implementing instructions in the near future.”

According to the Dec. 22 memo approved by senior leaders, Richard said, the new incentives will include:

¶ A critical skills retention bonus for all servicemembers in the rank of E-6 who have completed 19 years of service and who have a Special Operations military occupational skills designator, and who are willing to sign an active-duty service agreement of one to six years.

The amount of the bonus depends on how long the person is willing to stay in the military. Individuals agreeing to stay for a one-year contract (and only members who have completed 24 years of service are eligible for this option) will get $8,000. For two years, the bonus will be $18,000; for three years, $30,000; for four years, $50,000; five years, $75,000; and another six year- stint, $150,000.

¶ A $375 per month special-duty assignment pay for all special operators in ranks E-4 thru E-9. This payment will replace the special duty assignment pay that already exists for commandoes, which “was scattered all over,” Richard said. The new benefit structure “makes it equal across the board,” he said.

¶ A $750 monthly assignment incentive pay for Special Operations enlisted members and warrant officers with more than 25 years of service, whom Special Operations Command leaders have formally designated as “operators,” and who agree to serve a minimum of an additional year.

¶ A “critical” designation for Army and Navy warrant officers with a SOF military occupational skills designator, which means their respective services may offer up to $60,000 in accessions bonus in order to attract more warrant officers.

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