Navy, Marine Corps Shelling Out Thousands to New Enlistees Amid Unrelenting Recruitment Slump

by Micaela Burrow


The Navy and Marine Corps are bumping up enlistment bonuses for people looking to fill highly technical occupations as the military battles to find sufficient numbers of new recruits.

The Marine Corps announced recruits joining the cyber and crypto operations enlistment field would get up to an extra $15,000 for the remainder of fiscal year 2023, the largest enlistment bonus currently being offered, according to a memo posted Monday. Service officials have attributed recent recruiting struggles to a historically low number of Americans who are both eligible to serve and express an interest, as well as intense competition and often better-paying, less demanding offers from the private sector.

In the Navy, recruits who offer to ship out before October could earn up to an extra $140,000 in bonuses and loan repayments, according to the recruiting website. As of June 15, recruits entering the nuclear career field would receive a $75,000 bonus, while all others get $50,000, the Navy said in a news release.

The program “is designed to attract the highest quality of recruits” and maintain the Navy’s readiness, the press release said.

While enlistment bonuses are not a new tactic — the Army is offering $35,000 to new recruits who would agree to ship out on a condensed timeline — the Marine Corps has historically shied away from depending on such incentives to attract new members, according to The Marine Corps previously offered just $9,000 for new recruits who would head to boot camp quickly, the second largest bonus available to Marines.

Gen. Eric Smith, second-in-command for the Marine Corps, jested in February that “your bonus is that you get to call yourself a Marine,” according to “That’s your bonus … there’s no dollar amount that goes with that,” he said.

The service is piloting other ways to attract and retain higher-ranking officers and enlisted, targeting experienced professionals in technology and computer systems to accelerate the force’s modernization goals.

For example, the branch is considering a program called “lateral entry” that would allow new recruits specializing in cyber warfare, software development, artificial intelligence and robotics to enter the service at a higher rank. It is also allowing enlisted Marines a third try at achieving a promotion in a bid to retain more experienced troops, Marine Corps Times reported.

Smith denied that the bonuses and the Corps’ search for high-skilled troops would permit someone to “sneak” into the Marine Corps and bypass boot camp, according to

“That is false: You’re going to earn the eagle, globe and anchor,” Smith said. “In some of those more exquisite capabilities, we want them to come in and be at a level commensurate with their skill set.”

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Micaela Burrow is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “U.S. Marine Corps” by USMC Recruiting.



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