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A Message on the Indefinite Reenlistment Program

From PERSCOM's Commanding General,
Major General Thomas W. Garrett

I am pleased to report to you that the Army’s enlisted retention program continues as a "success story" this year.

As the active Army enters the last quarter of fiscal year 1998, it is exceeding its reenlistment goals for initial and mid-term soldiers. This ensures continued high personnel readiness during some turbulent times. We do need your support, however, to meet our goals to retain those soldiers whose active duty obligation ends this fiscal year.

Two key programs have facilitated commanders' reenlistment efforts:

Selective reenlistment bonuses have been a tremendous asset in raising retention rates to historical levels. For example, 11B (Infantryman) is enjoying its best-ever retention rate this year.

Our new automated retention system, RETAIN III, is more responsive than the previous system. It provides more users the ability to access the system simultaneously and provides enhanced reports, a user-friendly interface, multiple task processing and online help.

One of the Army's best initiatives to support retention of our career noncommissioned officers -- the indefinite reenlistment program -- is scheduled for implementation this October.

The program will be mandatory and apply to all Regular Army soldiers in the rank of staff sergeant to command sergeant major who are eligible for reenlistment and have at least 10 or more years of active federal service (AFS) on the date of reenlistment. Soldiers pending a personnel action, such as a MOS medical retention board (MMRB) or reclassification action will be permitted to extend their enlistment for short periods.

In brief, here's how the program will work:

The career counselor will apprise soldiers of their options when they come into the reenlistment window (12 months prior to ETS) or when they must meet a service remaining requirement.

Each soldier will be processed in the RETAIN system, complete all reenlistment documents and take the oath. At that time, the new expiration of term of service date will become the same date as the retention control point for the current rank.

From that point on, whenever the soldier is promoted, the expiration of term of service will be updated to reflect the retention control point for the new rank.

After reenlisting for the indefinite program, a soldier will request voluntary separation or retirement, provided all service remaining requirements have been fulfilled, in a manner similar to officers.

The program is the result of a 1992 Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (DCSPER) directed study. This study reviewed the merits of an indefinite status for enlisted soldiers. The study found that soldiers (sergeant and below with less than 10 years AFS) who currently had reenlistment options (some skills with a bonus) did not concur with an indefinite status; they preferred to retain their options and bonuses.

On the other hand, career soldiers (staff sergeants and above with 10 or more years [AFS] service who had only the Regular Army option) and senior Army leaders preferred an indefinite status, similar to the current officer program.

In October 1993, the DCSPER approved the recommendation to develop congressional legislation for an enlisted indefinite status. The recommendation was approved in the fiscal year 1997 Defense Authorization Bill.

The guidelines needed to accommodate associated programs, such as assignments, promotions, separations (voluntary, in lieu of permanent change of station and retirements), and ID cards are being finalized. We also have changed other personnel systems, including the RETAIN system, to support the new indefinite status.

We believe implementation of the indefinite reenlistment program is good for the professional NCO Corps, good for the Army, and good for our country. It will bolster the professional NCO Corps image while providing a sense of security for those soldiers committed to the Army; enhance our Army's retention rates; and assure we have a strong "backbone" to support our national military strategy.

U.S. Military

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Information Courtesy of U.S. Army

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