The Army is dramatically expanding it's National Call to Service (NCS) Enlistment Program, commonly called the "Two-Year Enlistment."
Congress mandated that all of the military services offer the NCS program, effective October 2003. Under the NCS program, a person enlists on active duty for a period of 15 months, following basic training and job training (which makes an average 24-month active duty enlistment period).
Everyone who enlists under the NCS incurs a total 8 year military service obligation. Following the active duty commitment, recruits will have to accept one of the following:
- Reenlist on active duty (for a time-period that will be specified in the original enlistment contract)
- Serve two years in the active National Guard or Reserves (this means a minimum of drilling one weekend per month, plus training for two weeks per year, plus the possibility of being recalled to active duty by the President for deployments/contingency operations, etc.).
After serving for the additional time period mentioned above, the commitment is not over over yet (remember, this is a total eight year commitment). Whatever time remains on that total eight year commitment, must be spent in one of the following programs:
- Active Duty
- Selected Reserves (The one that requires weekend drill and two weeks per year training)
- Inactive Reserves (The program where you can be recalled to active duty if needed, but don't perform weekend drill or annual training)
- Other program such as Peace Corps or Americorps
- Combination of any of the above
As with the other services, the Army wasn't thrill with the program when Congress mandated it, and instituted it on a very limited basis. The program was only available at 10 of the Army’s 41 recruiting battalions: Albany, N.Y.; Columbia, S.C.; Miami; Raleigh, N.C.; Cleveland; Kansas City, Mo.; Oklahoma City; Sacramento and Southern California (Mission Viejo, Calif.), and San Antonio, Texas. However, sagging recruiting numbers have promted the Army to expand the program to all of their recruiting locations.
So, what do recruits who agree to enlist under this program get?
Members who enlist under the National Call to Service Program will receive their choice of one of the following enlistment incentives:
- Payment of a bonus in the amount of $5,000, payable on completion of the active duty service portion.
- Payment in an amount not to exceed $18,000 of outstanding principal and interest on qualifying student loans. This is also payable upon completion of the active duty portion.
- An "Education Allowance" which is equal to Full Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) , Education Rates for up to 12 months of education (which currently equates to $816 per month for 12 months of full-time education).
- An "Education Allowance" which is equal to 1/2 Monthly GI Bill Benefits for up to 36 months of education (which currently equates to $408 per month for 36 months of full-time education).
Note: Recruits who enlist under the National Call to Service program are not eligible for the MGIB, unless they later reenlist for two or more additional years.