|Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 12:28 pm: ||
Military spending soars to keep troops in the service
LOLITA C. BALDOR
WASHINGTON — The struggle to entice Army soldiers and Marines to stay in the military, after four years of war in Iraq, has ballooned into a $1 billion campaign, with bonuses soaring nearly sixfold since 2003.
The size and number of bonuses have grown as officials scrambled to meet the steady demand for troops on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan and reverse sporadic shortfalls in the number of National Guard and Reserve soldiers willing to sign on for multiple tours.
Besides underscoring the extraordinary steps the Pentagon must take to maintain fighting forces, the rise in costs for re-enlistment incentives is putting strains on the defense budget, already strapped by the massive costs of waging war and equipping and caring for a modern military.
The bonuses can range from a few thousand dollars to as much as $150,000 for very senior special forces soldiers who re-enlist for six years. All told, the Army and Marines spent $1.03 billion for re-enlistment payments last year, compared with $174 million in 2003, the year the war in Iraq began.
"Colin Powell was only partially right when he warned before the U.S. invasion, “If you break it, you own it.” What he didn’t add is that the locals will hate you for it, and try to kill you every day until you give it back."