This move brings the total number of Air Force “specialty bonuses” to 22.
“Our Air Force value proposition is about far more than pay or compensation,” Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, Air Force Recruiting Service commander, said in a release. “It’s primarily about opportunity and joining a community with an unmatched sense of purpose. But in a highly competitive labor market, enlistment incentives can help ensure we get the additional Airmen required to fill our ranks and serve the nation.”
He added: “Today, that job market is at record-high levels of competition and it’s a battle for talent.”
The Air Force’s $8,000 “quick-ship bonus” that began in April remains in place. “Quick ship” happens when a qualified applicant fills a basic training vacancy, and ships within five days or less.
The Air Force said about 180 bonuses have been paid to recruits who entered active duty within a few days of signing a contract.
In an interview last month, Thomas told the Dayton Daily News that he sees an “increasing disconnect” with civil society tied to decreasing exposure to the American military today, with fewer veterans, fewer military bases across the country and generally less civilian access to those bases, especially after 9/11.
Early this year, Thomas warned that recruitment numbers are trending downwards. “The aggregate effect of these two years of COVID is driving downward trends in our pool of qualified applicants,” the Federal News Network quoted him as saying.
A Heritage Foundation report earlier this year said that the number of Americans qualified to join the military without a waiver continues to fall. Since 2014, the military has reported that because of obesity, criminal history, physical problems, drug use or lack of a high school degree, only 29% of Americans qualify to join the military without a waiver, the foundation said.