The Air Force is nearly tripling the number of jobs eligible for selective re-enlistment bonuses in fiscal 2016.
Airmen in 117 career fields could receive bonuses of as much as $90,000 if they re-enlist. That's far more than the 40 Air Force specialty codes that were eligible for the bonuses in 2015, the Air Force said in a Monday release.
The SRB expansion is proving to be far greater than Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, director of military force management policy, hinted at in an interview with Air Force Times last November. Kelly then said that airmen in more than 70 career fields would likely be eligible for more than $220 million in re-enlistment bonuses this year.
Most of the jobs eligible for bonuses last year — such as 1A8X1 airborne cryptologic language analysts, 1C2X1 combat control, 1C4X1 Tactical Air Control Party, and 1T2X1 pararescue — remain on the new list. However, the 1N4X1A fusion analyst-digital network analyst career field, which was eligible for re-enlistment bonuses last year, has now been dropped from this year's list. A similar career field — 1N4X1B fusion analyst-analysis and production — is newly added this year.
Also new to the list are jobs such as 1A0X1 in-flight refueling, 1A1X1 flight engineer, 2A3X8A and B remotely piloted maintenance for MQ-1 Predators, MQ-9 Reapers and RQ-4 Global Hawks, and 2M0X2 missile and space systems management.
In the release, the Air Force said the expansion goes hand-in-hand with its plan to fix shortfalls in its nuclear, maintenance, cyber, intelligence, remotely piloted aircraft and support career fields. The Air Force is also trying to grow to meet increasing mission demands, as the service is increasingly tapped to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, provide air support in Afghanistan, and bolster European allies in the face of a resurgent Russia.
"This year's SRB list is increased by nearly threefold as we focused on retaining key experience while continuing our deliberate plan to grow our force," Col. Robert Romer, chief of military force policy, said in the release. "We are increasing our accessions and training pipeline to support the increased growth, but these new enlistees won't be seasoned for some time. Retaining the experience we have is critical to our success in reaching target end strength.
Romer said that the Air Force looked at current and projected manning levels, re-enlistment trends, career field force structure changes and stress levels, and costs associated with training new airmen when deciding which career fields should be eligible for bonuses.
The bonus changes went into effect Monday.
The list of eligible jobs can be found here.
Stephen Losey covers personnel, promotions, and the Air Force Academy for Air Force Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.