Gulf News

Spending on soldiers and Marines soars

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The struggle to entice Army soldiers and Marines to stay in the military, after four years of war in Iraq, has ballooned into a $1 billion campaign, with bonuses soaring nearly sixfold since 2003.

The size and number of bonuses have grown as officials scrambled to meet the steady demand for troops on the battlefiel­ds in Iraq and Afghanista­n and reverse sporadic shortfalls in the number of National Guard and Reserve soldiers willing to sign on for multiple tours.

Besides underscori­ng the extraordin­ary steps the Pentagon must take to maintain fighting forces, the rise in costs for re-enlistment incentives is putting strains on the defence budget, already strapped by the massive costs of waging war and equipping and caring for a modern military.

The bonuses can range from a few thousand dollars to as much as $150,000 for very senior special forces soldiers who re-enlist for six years.

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