July 03, 2006
Navy, Air Force officers get bonus to go Army
Enlisted Marines are still eligible

By Jim Tice
Times staff writer

The Army still needs Air Force and Navy officers willing to go green.

Under the Blue to Green program, Air Force and Navy officers approved for transfer can move to the Army without changing rank or component. And those who sign up for three years on active duty net a $2,500 signing bonus.

The bonus is retroactive, so officers approved for an interservice transfer Jan. 6 or later are eligible for the lump-sum bonus, according to Army personnel officials. But the bonus will not be paid until an officer arrives at his first duty assignment with permanent-change-of-station orders in hand. Military and civilian schools do not qualify as duty assignments.

Most Air Force lieutenants and Navy lieutenants junior grade approved for transfer must attend the Basic Officer Leader Course, a combination of six weeks of warrior-focused field training and six to 14 weeks of specialty training at a branch service school.

Officers in the grade of O-3 will attend the Captains Career Course, a 21-week regimen of warrior and specialty training at a branch service school.

The Blue to Green program looks to match Air Force and Navy drawdowns to increases in the Army. Simultaneous with reductions of at least 40,000 troops in the Air Force and up to 60,000 in the Navy, the Army is expanding to 512,000 soldiers, about 30,000 more than when Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March 2003. The drawdowns in the Navy and Air Force are slated to be complete by 2012, while the Army could reach 512,000 by 2007 or 2008.

The Blue to Green program has components for enlisted service members and for officers. As of mid-June, 488 enlisted personnel from the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps had become soldiers since the program’s start in 2004, according to Army personnel officials. That includes 71 airmen, 160 sailors and 28 Marines this year.

Marines and Coast Guardsmen are eligible for Blue to Green, but they must complete enlistments with their current service before transferring to the Army.

Enlisted volunteers span the ranks of junior enlisteds to senior noncommissioned officers, and they have training and experience in a variety of career fields and specialties. For additional details, access www.goarmy.com/btg/ or contact an Army recruiter.

Blue to Green has brought in 213 officers since late 2004, including 95 this year, according to Maj. Patrick Budjenska of the Army’s officer policy division at the Pentagon.

All of the Army’s basic line branches are reviewing Blue to Green applications, he said.

“If an officer has branch preferences, he or she should list them on the application,” Budjenska said. Career branches that are not listed by an officer will not review the application.

Basic branches are infantry, armor, field artillery, air defense, chemical, engineer, military intelligence, military police, signal, adjutant general, finance, ordnance, quartermaster and Special Forces.

Officers apply for transfer through their chain of command to the assistant secretary of their service for manpower and reserve affairs. Once approved by their service, the transfer request is forwarded to the Army for staffing, branching and approval. Army processing normally takes about three months.

Jim Tice covers the Army.