The Air Force is once again offering some Korean language analysts a new selective retention bonus to convince them to stay in uniform longer.
The bonus for 1N3X1H cryptologic language analyst airmen who specialize in Korean is one of a handful of career fields added to the midyear revision of the selective retention bonus list. The revision, which took effect Wednesday, also adds some 1N0X1 all source intelligence analysts and 3D1X4 spectrum operations airmen, and expands bonuses for a few other career fields.
Crypto language analysts use their skills to collect, translate and analyze conversations and other communications in foreign languages, and report that intelligence so it can be used by other officials in the Air Force, Defense Department, and intelligence and other government agencies.
The move comes at a time when the government is in the greatest need of Korean speakers in years.
Tensions spiked last year as North Korea tested nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un engaged in a war of words.
And while the temperature came down considerably this year as North and South Korea publicly increased their engagement, and the U.S. and North Korea made plans to negotiate next month, President Trump last week announced those talks were off and it remains unclear whether they will continue.
The Air Force has also conducted multiple fighter training exercises in the area with South Korean allies, and flown bomber sorties to deter North Korea as part of the continuous bomber presence mission.
The Air Force has in previous years offered selective retention bonuses to Korean crypto language analysts. But when the first version of the fiscal 2018 bonus list was released in February, that career field was one of 17 that had been dropped.
Korean language analysts can only be eligible for a bonus if they fall in “zone B,” meaning they’ve served between six and 10 years.
The size of their bonus would be calculated by multiplying one month of their base pay by the number of years they are re-enlisting by the multiplier for their zone ― in this case, eligible airmen’s multiplier would be 2. No other airmen in that career field are eligible for bonuses. They also must have a skill level of 3, 5 or 7.
Airmen in the 1N0X1 all source intelligence career field, with a 3, 5 or 7 skill level, can get a bonus based on a multiplier of 2 if they fall in zone A, meaning they served between 17 months and six years. Or, they could get a bonus based on a multiplier of 3 if they served between six and 14 years.
And 3D1X4 spectrum operations airmen ― who organize radio, radar and other frequencies to keep them free from interference ― with a 3 or 5 skill level can get a 2 multiplier if they served 17 months to six years, or a 3 multiplier if they served six to 10 years.
And airmen in four other career fields, which already were eligible in certain zones, are having their eligibility criteria expanded.
The list says that 2A2X1A special operations forces and personnel recovery integrated communications, navigation and mission systems airmen specializing in the CV-22 Osprey, and 4Y0X1H dental hygienists will now be eligible if they have six to 10 years in the service.
And 2A9X3F bomber and special electronic warfare and radar surveillance integrated avionics airmen specializing in the B-2 bomber, and 2W2X1 nuclear weapons airmen, will now be eligible if they have between 17 months and six years of experience.
The list of selective retention bonuses can be found here.
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.