Yesterday Slate ran a piece that caught my attention about what they called the "creeping monetization" of the US military. In an effort to attract 65,000 new recruits, the military is offering a new, $40,000 signing bonus. In other words, money talks. The bonus sounds great, but some worry it could upset the current structure.
The piece calls attention to these three concerns:
- The bonus is likely to attract, or produce — short timers. It is handed over only after recruits finish their service, effectively becoming an incentive not to re-enlist for a second term.
- The new plan stands to work against another set of incentives in place to retain junior officers, many of whom are leaving the service. The current offer is a $30,000 bonus for captains who re-enlist. Some have found it alluring, but now they're likely to resent that the Army's giving recruits even more.
- While an all-volunteer force must be paid well, putting so much emphasis on cash bonuses could draw people whose primary aim is making money — and who aren't talented enough to make the same kind of money in the civilian world.
Do you think either of these possibilities is harmful: the chance that a lot of young men and women who previously had no interest in the Army sign up, or that, despite the lure of the new bonuses, not enough of them do? Do you agree with the new plan?