Recruiting in the military is similar to that in civilian life inone respect: once there, people need incentives to stay.

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And the military brass, knowing the value of its longest-servingmilitary personnel, has decided that it wants to up the ante toretain those potential career servicemembers and modify its new“blended” retirement plan that hasn’t even taken effectyet.

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Related: Military families benefit from advisors'retirement advice

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That’s according to Military Times, which reports that the new plan—which takes effectJanuary 1—imposes eligibility limits on the dollar-for-dollarcontributions that will be made to troops’ 401(k)-style investmentaccounts under the new system.

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That cap is a key feature of the new plan, but in late May aproposal to lift the cap was included in the Department ofDefense’s budget request for fiscal 2018.

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Current rules stop those contributions once personnel have putin 26 years of service. Should the cap be lifted, careerists makingit to the military’s senior-most ranks could benefit to the tune oftens of thousands of dollars in additional retirement savings,depending on the stock market’s performance over time.

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While Congress has yet to review the budget, and it’s not knownwhether lawmakers favor or oppose such a measure, the military hasalready tried during the last two budget cycles to lift the cap,with no success—but those two requests covered all servingpersonnel.

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The Pentagon hopes that by restricting the measure to enlistedpersonnel only, as this latest attempt does, it might squeakthrough.

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The report says, “Officials view the initiative as a means tohelp retain those who hold influential positions throughout thearmed forces, men and women who’ve amassed deep expertise in theiroccupational fields or serve as key advisers to the military’ssenior commanders.”

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Servicemembers already face a tough decision when it comes toretirement; with the new plan taking effect this coming January,they have to decide whether to opt into the new retirementplan—which cuts lifelong pension payouts by 20 percent whileoffering matching cash contributions of up to 5 percent of basicpay for individuals who invest in the government’s Thrift SavingsPlan—or, under a grandfather clause, stick with the old plan thatprovides a full pension.

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The blended retirement package will be the only choice for thosewho join up after January 1, but those who have put in less than 12years of service by December 31 will have to make a choice—althoughthey will have all of 2018 to do so.

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Budget documents indicate an estimated 1.75 million troops whowould be eligible to opt in.

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