The Naval Special Warfare Enlisted and CWO Critical Skills Retention Bonus The use of a Critical Skills Retention Bonus (CSRB) was established under US law to provide retention incentives for Critical Military Specialty areas. Due to a shortage in senior NSW operators, in December 2004 the Secretary of Defense designated SEALs as a critical skill and implemented a CSRB program for Special Warfare service members. At the time of its design and original implementation, the CSRB could only be paid to members who had not reached their 25th year of service (YOS). The SEAL community had a requirement to increase retention of our most experienced retirement eligible operators (those over 25 YOS) so the Navy authorized using assignment incentive pay (known as SOCOM AIP) for all SEALs who were between their 25th and 30th YOS. These 2 incentive programs have been successful in increasing the total number of retirement eligible NSW operators whom continue to serve on active duty. These programs have helped to shift the average retirement point of a NSW operator three years to the right. While 3 years may not seem like it would make a difference, the numbers don’t lie. In 2004 there were a total of 157 retirement eligible enlisted operators in the NSW (SEAL/SWCC) force. With the CSRB, that number has increased by 130%. The end result is that there are an additional 220 NSW Operators in the force today when compared to 2004 numbers. These men are teaching, leading and mentoring the future of NSW. While these tools have been effective, they were not optimized to best benefit the Operator, the NSW Community or the Navy. Old NSW CWO and Enlisted CSRB rates $150,000 for a 6 year contract $75,000 for a 5 year contract $50,000 for a 4 year contract $30,000 for a 3 year contract $18,000 for a 2 year contract $8,000 for a 1 year contract The old CSRB had a pay structure which, in most cases, forced the operator into an all- or-nothing decision at their 19 year mark. The severe drop from $150K to $75K from a 6 year to a 5 year program could never be recovered from. “We had operators who would sign a 3 year contract at 19 YOS, then an additional 3 year contract at 22 YOS and receive a total of $60K for serving 6 years. In this case the operator would miss out on $70K of bonus.” Reports SOCM Jim Sullivan the SEAL Enlisted Community Advisor. Additional constraints were also forthcoming from a Navy policy perspective. If an Operator was an E7 at their 19th YOS, the old CSRB could only be maximized ($150K for 6 years) if he was awarded a high year tenure waiver (HYT) to allow for a 6 year contract. SBCS Freddy Wienbeck the SWCC Enlisted Community ECM stated, “HYT extension requests for an E7 who is still 5 years from his 25th YOS do not meet the current policy guidelines. We would be forced to only allow 5 year contracts from NSW Chiefs. Under the old CSRB, the Operator would lose $75K because he was not granted HYT.” “We needed to restructure the program.” CDR Bart Randall, NSW ECM, continues, “Our Operators were losing money but still doing the time. The new CSRB gives authority for early reenlistments, combining enlistments with extensions and most importantly it rewards Operators who serve in their career milestone tours and advance.” The current use of AIP to incentivize SEAL operators staying past 25 YOS was also exceeding its design. Assignment Incentive Pay was created to attract sailors to specific commands which are traditionally tough to man. By using AIP for all SEALs over 25 YOS, the community managers are not able to use that incentive for “hard fill” billets or UICs. CDR Randall adds, “In 2004, the Enlisted Community Managers used the tools they had at that time to try and improve retention. AIP was a suitable stop-gap until the laws could be changed to pay CSRB past an Operators 25 year.” New NSW CWO and Enlisted CSRB rates Phase ONE max: $100K for serving 19 through 24 YOS (5 years) Phase TWO max: $60K for serving 25 thorough 26 YOS (2 years) Phase THREE max: $48K for serving 27 thorough 29 YOS (4 years) Phase ONE Phase TWO Phase THREE SO/SB E7/8/9, CWO SO/SB E8/9, CWO SO E9, SEAL CWO 19 YOS 20 YOS 21 YOS 22 YOS 23 YOS 24 YOS 25 YOS 26 YOS 27 YOS 28 YOS 29 YOS $10K $15K $20K $25K $30K $30K $30K $12K $12K $12K $12K The new NSW CSRB system will pay NSW operators a fixed amount per year of service. If he chooses to serve a partial year, then that year will be pro-rated as per that year’s bonus amount. NAVADMIN XX/11 articulates the detailed rules of engagement for the new NSW CSRB. SO/SB E7s have an opportunity for $100k, SO/SB E8s have an opportunity for $160k and both SO E9s and CWOs can earn up to $200K in CSRB cash. SBCS Wienbeck, “This is good news for the Operators and the NSW community. Now our men can get the bonus for the time that they contract to up front. Additionally, if you are in a combat zone, it will be tax free. The old AIP program did not allow for up-front tax free cash”.
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