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New re-up plan lets sailors sign up early

Sep. 17, 2012 - 08:01PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 17, 2012 - 08:01PM  |  
The Navy is allowing temporary allowances for early re-ups.
The Navy is allowing temporary allowances for early re-ups. (MCS 3rd Class Brian T. Glunt / Navy)
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Chart: 2012 selective re-enlistment bonuses

The Navy is allowing thousands of sailors initially ineligible for re-up bonuses until next year to cash in now.

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The Navy is allowing thousands of sailors initially ineligible for re-up bonuses until next year to cash in now.

The Navy still has $20 million left in fiscal 2012 re-up bucks, allowing early recipients of selective re-enlistment bonuses. The news was announced in a fleetwide message, NAVADMIN 143/12, posted Sept. 8.

The update also added 11 new rating and re-enlistment zone combinations to the list, while increasing 10 others. The downside: Three combinations are being reduced, and another has been eliminated.

The increases go into effect immediately, while reductions go into effect Oct. 8.

Finally, the message also announced a change in when anniversary payments are awarded to those with SRB contracts.

But by far, the biggest news in this update was the temporary allowance of early re-ups. Normally these are bound by fiscal years.

The fiscal 2012 SRB pool totaled $110 million, said Lt. Hayley Sims, spokeswoman for the chief of naval personnel.

"As of Sep. 12, 3,789 sailors had either re-enlisted or have pending re-enlistments approved for SRBs this fiscal year," she said. "A total of $90 million has been obligated for initial payments and the Navy has $20 million remaining for new payments this fiscal year."

To make early re-ups a reality, the Navy will also waive the requirement that SRB requests be approved no fewer than 35 days before that sailor wants to re-enlist.

So, until Oct. 1, any SRB-eligible sailor with an end-of-service date in fiscal 2013 can re-enlist immediately. Officials said this will help the Navy spend the remainder of its fiscal 2012 funds while benefiting sailors who might lose out if their skill sees bonus payout levels reduced or eliminated in future updates.

The Navy has updated levels three times this fiscal year and has promised to dial bonuses up or down as needs change. With an expected $3 million cut in the fiscal 2013 SRB budget, dropping it to $107 million, officials are hoping to entice sailors with guaranteed money now.

Anniversary payments

SRBs are split sailors get half the amount up front and the other half spread over equal "anniversary payments," one for each of the remaining years of their contract. Navy policy dictates SRB anniversary payments are made in October for everyone; any re-enlistments before Oct. 1 will continue to be paid under that policy.

That changes starting Oct. 1, when the Navy will begin paying yearly installments during the anniversary month of the sailor's re-enlistment. For example, if a sailor re-enlists in November 2012, his next payment will come in November2013, and so on, for the rest of his contract.

The change was mandated in November 2011 by the Office of Management and Budget, Sims said, because in recent years Congress has not approved the defense budget on time, forcing the services to operate under continuing resolutions.

Those resolutions come with funding restrictions that affect many personnel programs, such as moves and bonuses, making it difficult to pay all anniversary payments at once. The new move will spread those payments over the year.

Big losers, new winners

The biggest losers this time are Navy divers with the 4342 Navy enlisted classification of first class diver. After decades of always being on the bonus list in all re-enlistment zones, now only sailors in re-enlistment zones A and C with that skill can ship over and get a bonus.

The three reductions come for the surface nuclear power ratings of engineering lab technician, electrician's mate and machinist's mate, each of which had its SRB multiple dropped half a point to 9.5, 5.0 and 8.5, respectively.

A bonus total is calculated by multiplying the award multiple by a service member's monthly base pay. That product is multiplied by the total number of months for which he re-enlists.

For example, an E-5 submarine-qualified electronics technician with four years in gets $2,662 in basic pay per month. Multiplying that pay by his award multiple, 11.5, he could max out at $90,000 by re-enlisting for 30 months.

Making a debut on the list are both sub and surface culinary specialists, who join in re-enlistment Zone A with multiples of 2.0 and 1.0. In addition, six SEAL and two special boat operator skill and zone combinations were added, along with Persian-speaking cryptologic technicians.

The largest increase on the list is for Aegis-qualified fire controlmen, whose Zone A multiple increased to 4.0, up from 2.5.

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