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That is a steep drop from the $16,000 to $18,000 bonuses the Army was paying on average to new recruits in 2007 and 2008.

In the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2008, the Army paid nearly $860,000 in enlistment bonuses, compared with just $77,000 in the 2011 fiscal year.

Re-enlistment bonuses for soldiers now average about $7,500 to $7,700.

Military leaders say the key goal is to shape the force as they cut, winnowing out not only the lesser qualified, but keeping the right number of soldiers in critical jobs and all across the ranks, particularly the mid-level officers.

“We need to keep the right balance,” said Gen. Rodriguez. “We don’t want a well-modernized force with no personnel that are trained.”

The Army, he said, “can build a young soldier quickly, but we can’t build a major and a sergeant quickly. So we have to figure out the right ratios as we move forward, and we have to be able to expand if we need to.”