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Task Force Baghdad rings up 4,000 re-ups for FY05

By Spc. Maria Mengrone

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq (Army News Service, Oct. 13, 2005)-- Soldiers assigned to Task Force Baghdad are answering their nation’s call to “stay Army” by ending Fiscal Year 2005 with more than 4,000 re-enlistments.

In return for their continued service, they’re also earning a combined total of more than $42 million in tax-free re-enlistment bonuses.

“All re-enlistment goals set by the Department of the Army for FY05 have been met with overwhelming success,” said Sgt. Maj. Craig T. Lott, Multi-National Division–Baghdad retention sergeant major, and a member of Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division.

“The Army gives us a target percentage of what we need to obtain, for example it may be a goal to retain 20 to 25 percent of our initial-term Soldiers and 40 percent of our mid-term Soldiers … so whatever percentage we’re given is how we drive our goals,” Lott said.

End-of-year calculations show re-enlistment success in all three major categories of service members. Re-enlistments of initial-term Soldiers (those with less than six years in service) were at 127 percent of the targeted goal; mid-career Soldiers (six to 10 years) were at 134 percent; and career Soldiers (more than 10 years) were at 165 percent.

Master Sgt. Harl A. Marzan, senior retention career counselor from STB, said in the past eight months the National Guard component alone has re-enlisted more than 145 Soldiers who have received nearly $2 million in tax-free bonuses.

Marzan said although the Army National Guard will probably not meet its recruiting goal for FY05, the retention re-enlistments have been very successful.

Remarkably, most of the re-enlistment achievements of FY05 have been met in the last nine months. Many of the Soldiers were preoccupied with preparations for the deployment to Iraq during the beginning of the fiscal year.

“At first the mission seemed unattainable, but a lot of hard work and the bonus amounts have helped out,” said Sgt. 1st Class Matt J. Wickham, 3rd Inf. Div. retention operations non-commissioned officer-in-charge. “The success of the fiscal year does not go to one person; instead, it’s a combination of hard work from unit commanders, first sergeants, NCOs, officers and everyone involved in the retention mission.

“A lot of soldiers feel we withhold options, but that’s simply not true,” he added. “There is no reason for us to do that. I want to see them get every option for which they are entitled. We are always going to err on the side of the Soldier. We are always going to try to get them what they want whenever possible.”

Although FY05 has ended with positive results for all personnel involved in the retention process, leaders must now ensure that Soldiers who have already reenlisted receive everything they were promised on their contracts.

Lott said it is important to take care of the more than 4,000 Soldiers who re-enlisted the past year.

“If we made a commitment to them we need to make sure it’s honored and that the Soldier receives what he or she was promised,” he said.

(Editor’s note: Spc. Maria Mengrone is with the Task Force Baghdad PAO)

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