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Air Force drops re-enlistment bonuses in 17 career fields

Senior Airman Aaron Roper and Airman 1st Class Darren Strange, both with the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, perform diagnostics on an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft on the flightline at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 19, 2016. The Air Force on Tuesday announced the elimination of selective re-enlistment bonuses for 17 career fields. J.M. EDDINS JR./U.S. AIR FORCE

Air Force cryptologic language analysts who specialize in Korean or Hebrew and who are eligible to re-enlist may want to submit their paperwork now.

The same goes for airmen in more than a dozen Air Force career fields about to lose retention bonuses that can be as much as $90,000.

The Air Force on Tuesday announced it was eliminating selective re-enlistment bonuses for 17 career fields — including Hebrew and Korean cryptologic language analysts — and reducing retention bonuses for 19 more in fiscal year 2018.

But for the first time since 2012, airmen assigned to specialty codes subject to reduced or eliminated bonuses now have 30 days to re-enlist and still get their higher bonuses.

For the past five fiscal years, the change to career fields eligible for bonuses was effective immediately, causing some airmen to miss out on a bonus if they hadn’t re-enlisted before the announcement date.

The Air Force Personnel Center posted the list of changes to selective re-enlistment bonuses on Tuesday. It shows a total of 89 jobs eligible for re-enlistment bonuses, up from 80 last year. Twenty-six jobs were added, while 20 career fields that were already on the list will see higher bonuses this year.

AFPC said that reinstating the grace period “means airmen in Air Force specialty codes being reduced or terminated will have an opportunity to qualify for the selective retention bonus at the previous rate.”

All bonus increases and additions were effective as of Tuesday, while decreases or deletions won’t go into effect until March 7, according to the AFPC guidance released on Tuesday.

The Air Force uses bonuses to entice airmen to stay in the service and sign another enlistment contract in career fields that are critically undermanned and those requiring experienced airmen.

Air Force officials said the criteria used to determine fields eligible for re-enlistment bonuses last year included current and projected manning levels, retention levels and trends, and the cost of training new airmen.

Jobs for which bonuses were eliminated this year include remotely piloted aircraft sensor operators and RPA maintainers for RQ-4 Global Hawks, as well as refuelers/maintainers for the B-52 and B-2 bombers. While the Air Force is also ending bonuses for cryptologic language analysts in Korean and Hebrew, it’s adding a bonus for airmen in the same career field who specialize in Chinese. Bonuses, meanwhile, for cryptologic language analysts with an expertise in Arabic are being reduced.

Mental health services and firefighting vehicle and equipment maintainers are also among the jobs where bonuses are being cut.

Those being added to the list include in-flight refuelers, human intelligence specialists, special investigators, dental hygienists and pharmacy.

In some career fields, bonus eligibility depends on how many years of service an airman has. For example, airmen in survival, evasion, resistance and escape will see higher bonuses if they’ve been in the service for between six and 10 years or 10 and 14 years.

A full list of selective retention bonuses for 2018 can be found below.


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