Great SEALs of the United States…

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…are slated to get bonuses of up to $160,000 for re-enlisting, according to the Navy.

These aren’t for rookies, but for the cream of the crop: SEALs who have been in uniform for at least 18 years. Contrary to public perception, SEALs and those who support them tend to be older and more experienced than most sailors. These bonuses are aimed at keeping senior enlisted and chief warrant officers on board.

The service is offering bonuses of varying sizes to Naval Special Warfare sailors and chief warrant officers willing to serve up to seven more years. “Qualified members may re-enlist for six years and simultaneously sign a 12-month extension to maximize the seven year NSW CSRB [Naval Special Warfare Critical Skills Retention Bonus] opportunity,” the Navy’s personnel shop says. Bonuses have regularly been used to keep SEALs serving.

While the cash is nice, the benefits of SEAL service can sometimes be wanting, as one of those who participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden told Esquire in February. Speaking anonymously, he complained he left the service after 16 years of service with no pension and relatively meager additional benefits. Senior sailors earn about $50,000 annually in basic pay, with various bonuses and tax advantages roughly doubling that sum.

Under the bonus program, SEALs in their 18th year of service who agree to stay an additional seven years will receive a $160,000 “in a lump sum payment,” the Navy says. Annual bonuses ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 also are available.

Of course, sometimes SEALs are too occupied to deal with the Navy Personnel Command. “If operational commitments limit the ability to submit CSRB applications via this manner, commands should submit requests through their immediate superior in the chain of command, who can submit the request to the program manager,” the Navy says.

The pride and swagger that comes with being a SEAL is only offset a little by the snag they’ll experience actually obtaining that hard-earned extra money.

While the SEALs may have the coolest gear and zip along treetops in the world’s quietest helicopters before firing the world’s quietest guns, it seems their payroll system is a throwback to 1990:

CSRB approval will not currently update the Defense Joint Military Pay System (DJMS) of the Sailor’s intent to reenlist.  Until DJMS can be programmed to accept CSRB reenlistment payments, manual processing is required. Payment should post to the member’s account by the second pay period following the day the program manager receives notification of reenlistment.

SEALs aren’t the only ones pocketing big bucks: Air Force Times reports that about 250 of the services fighter pilots are eligible for $225,000 bonuses, if they sign up for an additional nine years.

That works out to $25,000 annually for an Air Force fighter pilot, compared to $22,857 per year for a Navy SEAL re-upping for seven years.

But the jet jockeys get only half their bonus up front, with the other half dribbled out over their next nine years of service.