The Air Force is now offering selective retention bonuses of up to $75,000 to hold on to some senior explosive ordnance disposal airmen who have served on active duty for at least two decades.

In a Thursday release, the Air Force Personnel Center said the service has received an exception to policy allowing it to offer bonuses to certain senior non-commissioned officers in the 3E8X1 EOD career field with at least 20 years, but fewer than 25 years, of active duty service. AFPC spokesman Mike Dickerson said master sergeants and senior master sergeants will be eligible for the bonuses, but not chief master sergeants.

Eligible EOD specialists who sign up for three more years would receive $30,000, the release said, and a four-year service agreement would draw $50,000. And airmen who sign up for five more years would receive $75,000.

The bonuses could be payable in either a lump sum, or in periodic installments, Dickerson said.

Edgar Holt, AFPC’s re-enlistments program manager, said the service offers such bonuses to encourage qualified and experienced enlisted airmen to re-enlist in jobs that are having a hard time with retention, or are facing high training costs.

The Air Force also offered a similar bonus to SNCOs in the EOD field in 2015. At the time, the Air Force said the bonuses were being offered because EOD airmen were understaffed.

Current staffing figures for EOD airmen were not immediately available.

The Air Force also could waive some high year of tenure requirements, or the number of years airmen are allowed to serve at their rank before they are forced to retire. Master sergeants who accept one of these bonuses could have their high year of tenure increased from 24 years to 25 years, and senior master sergeants' high year of tenure could be increased from 26 years to 28 years.

Airmen also must have a service-directed retainability requirement to qualify for this bonus and service extension, such as a Post-9/11 GI Bill transfer, a DEROS, or Date Estimated Return From Overseas, extension or a permanent change of station, Holt said.

The bonus became effective Jan. 29, but retroactive payments will not be allowed.

The Air Force typically only offers retention bonuses to airmen with between 17 months and 20 years of service. EOD specialists, along with several special tactics career fields, are eligible for the highest of those standard selective retention bonuses.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter at Defense News. He previously reported for Military.com, covering the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare. Before that, he covered U.S. Air Force leadership, personnel and operations for Air Force Times.

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