My last post about the $80K bonus for Cyber Warrants got a lot of comments on Facebook. A lot of them focused on two key things, the kind of odd restrictions built around it (as far as timelines go), and then the fact that 255S were not included in it.
A lot of people made a comment about how the 255S was getting screwed out of this. Truth be told, they aren’t entirely wrong, but they aren’t entirely right either. The 255S as a MOS has been an oddball to start with. For those of you who don’t remember, the S first showed up in about 2007 (I couldn’t find the exact date easily) as the Signal Corps was trying fight the MI Corps for control of the new emerging cyber mission. It had a few goals, but one of the major ones was to put a relatively senior signal warrant (W3) at the BCT level who could own the defense of the network.
Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned at all. The 255S became a highly trained Soldier, but without a true purpose. They got to units, and units had no idea what to do with them, and the new 255S weren’t entirely sure either. Instead, many of these new warrants became highly over-trained IMOs making sure that the network was in compliance, instead of secure.
A look at FMSWeb shows that out of about 300 255S slots on the books, 149 of them are in the National Guard/Reserve leaving about 164 of them in the active duty. Of those, only 20 of them have billets within ARCYBER itself.
Compare that with 170A. According to FMSWeb there are about 530 slots available with 284 belonging to the National Guard leaving about 244 active duty. Of those 219 of them are under the direct or operational control of ARCYBER (about 50 of them belong to INSCOM but work for ARCYBER).
While this incentive affects all 170As, it really affects almost exclusively ARCYBER and the warrants under its operational control. For 255S, there really isn’t someone that “owns” them. FORSCOM has the largest chuck of them (about 80), but that’s still less than 50% of the total force.
Are 255S in demand? Yes. I haven’t seen current fill rates lately but based on what I have seen in the past, plus the promotion board results, I have to imagine that they are not well staffed at all. Like 170As, they are well trained, and able to put a lot of that training to use in the civilian sector (although I don’t think that they would be competing for many of the same jobs that a 170A would be). Should a retention bonus be considered? Ya, probably but there is very little argument for ARCYBER to be the one to do that.
The time frames when you are able to take this incentive are a little bit odd. On thing to keep in mind is this is a retention incentive, not one designed to get a 170A paid closer to what they would on the outside. This means that it should be targeted on people who would likely be getting out of the military (or at least considering it), vs someone who is likely not going to go anywhere. As a reminder, here are the restrictions:
- Between 14 and 19 years of Active Federal Service
- Between 16 and 19 years of active commissioned time
- Retirement eligible with more than 22 years of active commissioned service
- Will have more than 25 years of active commissioned service at the end of the four year ADSO.
So the first restriction is directly related to when someone is able to retire. A lot of people (myself included) consider that 10/11 year mark to be the time when someone is considering if they should go ahead and get out, or go and do the full 20. This math gets slightly skewed with the new retirement system so I’m curious to see what happens there. In this case though, the Army seems to think that someone as late as 13 years may still consider dropping their papers. By starting the zone of exclusion at 14 years, we give everyone between 1 and 13 years a reason to consider staying in.
Once you hit 14 years though, you’re pretty well set, you’re gonna do 20 which means there is no benefit to the Army to incentive you further to stay. However, once you hit 19 years, a lot of people are thinking about retiring. By putting you back in the zone of eligibility, they once again give you a reason to stick around for another 4 years, taking you out to at least 23 years of service.
The next 3 restrictions are not as clear to me and don’t totally make a lot of sense. This incentive is advertised as wanting to keep more senior warrants around, but it seems designed to do the opposite (although in fairness 16 years of commissioned time is a long time and I would guess there aren’t a ton of people who hit that. It is a little bit unclear to me based on the memo on when commissioned time starts.
For the sake of example, I figured I would take my career as an example. I joined the Army in July 1999 and made the change to warrant in Oct 2005. That made me a warrant at 6 years 4 months in my career. When I pinned on, I incurred a 6 years ADSO. Because I’m not eligible for this incentive until I’m within a year of my current ADSO is up, it means that I can’t receive it until I am at 12 years and 5 months in my career, at which i was a senior CW2.
From there, I have about 1 year and 7 months during which time I can sign up for the bonus before I hit my 14 years of active service (that puts me at about 7 years 7 months commissioned time). For the sake of argument, lets say at 13 years 364 days, I took the bonus, I incur a 4 year ADSO during which I am collecting money. That ADSO is over at 18 years AFS (11 years, 8 months commissioned time). At this point, I’m in a restricted zone for 12 more months because of my AFS.
At 19 years AFS, I am at 12 years, 8 months commissioned time, and now able to get the bonus again (I don’t read anything that says that this is a one time thing). From there, I have 3 years, 9 months to sign up for the bonus before I hit my next restricted zone of 16 years commissioned time (I would be at 22 years, 4 months AFS), although it would be possible for me to sign up that day before and collect all the way until I’m at 26 years.
Under this scenario though, it would be possible for me to collect the bonus twice ($160k total) and retire at 23 years. Not a bad deal.