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    Finance soldiers make sense out of dollars

    Finance soldiers make sense out of dollars

    Photo By Master Sgt. Daniel Balda | 2nd Lt. Ted Wynne, a financial management officer and native of West Nyack, N.Y., and...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Daniel Balda 

    593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command

    JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. - Soldiers are trained to overcome any obstacle, no matter the height, width or difficulty. One of the very few barriers that will stop a unit dead in its tracks is a lack of money.

    If a unit can’t buy fuel, vehicles don’t move. If they can’t buy ammunition, they can’t shoot. If a soldier doesn’t get paid, they get mad or distracted and their performance often suffers.

    Twenty-six soldiers assigned to B Detachment, 9th Financial Management Company, 593rd Special Troops Battalion, 593rd Sustainment Brigade traveled to Fort McCoy, Wis., to take part in Diamond Saber, June 3-16.

    Diamond Saber is an annual pre-deployment training exercise conducted by the U.S. Army Reserve Command in order to train and assess the readiness of financial management units from multiple Army components, according to 2nd Lt. Ted Wynne, a financial management officer assigned to the detachment and a native of West Nyack, N.Y.

    The soldiers of B Detachment brought many different skill sets to the training exercise. They conducted simulated finance operations in the areas of military pay, contact vendor services and disbursing. The soldiers played both sides of the transaction, allowing the participants to operate in a more realistic environment where they could set up an office and interact with customers as they would in a deployed situation, Wynne said.

    The military pay soldiers answered pay inquiries, coded documents and ensured soldiers received their deployed entitlements.

    “Essentially the [military pay soldiers] make sure soldiers are getting paid correctly and any issues the soldiers have are fixed quickly and correctly,” Wynne said.

    The disbursing section was responsible for conducting business in regards to government funds. The disbursing agent signs the money to the cashiers for daily operations, including cashing checks, casual pays, receiving cash collections for money the soldier owes to the government or the Savings Deposit Program and adding money and issuing Eagle Cash Cards, a kind of debit card soldiers can use while deployed to make personal purchases, said Sgt. 1st Class Mioshi Greer, a detachment sergeant and native of Charleston, S.C.

    The contract vendor services section receives, inputs, audits and approves contract payments. For training purposes, the soldiers were given contract packets which included all the necessary documentation. The soldiers then go through the packet, checking to make sure the paperwork is correct. If it is not, the packets are returned to the customer. If they are correct, the paperwork is sent to disbursing for final payment, Greer said.

    Because of their specialized skill set, 9th FMCO soldiers are in constant rotation to deployed environments. This was essential to their success during the exercise as they had many soldiers that have accomplished similar missions in much more strenuous locales. Even though this might have seemed like another day in the office for the soldiers, every soldier, from those with multiple deployments to those that are fresh out of Advanced Individual Training, were able to learn something new, said Wynne.

    “The training helped to identify strengths and weaknesses in the unit,” Wynne said. “We have been training on finance operations in preparation for Diamond Saber and the upcoming deployment for a few months and this allowed us to get an outside look at our progress. Additionally, the ability to be removed from JBLM and focus solely on the training mission allowed the soldiers to become proficient at their technical tasks by continuous practice and immersion.”

    Spc. Preeti Sharma, a disbursing soldier and native of Atlantic City, N.J., had deployed twice with the unit but still found training value in the exercise.

    “I learned a lot during my deployments, but there were some changes to business practices and some new systems the Army is putting in place that I didn’t know about,” she said. “I was also able to train above my rank with greater responsibilities. With all the practice we had prior to the exercise, and the hard work we put in during the exercise, I feel that we could deploy tomorrow and accomplish our mission.”

    During the pre-exercise training, the soldiers were split into the teams they would be working with during the exercise. Greer felt this was essential to the success of her soldiers. “They already knew who they could rely on when they needed help. Most unit have a crawl, walk, run phase during an exercise. From day one we were ready to walk, and that quickly turned to a sprint. I had a number of sergeants major say that we were the best detachment out there. This is my A team.”

    “We trained so hard prior to the exercise, that I was able focus on learning new skills that will help me when I deploy,” said Spc. Hyak Mun, a finance clerk originally from Los Angeles.

    The soldiers were so successful that many of them were identified as being subject matter experts and asked to train sister finance detachments during the exercise.

    “One of my soldiers helped a unit find some mistakes they were making with the Eagle Cash Card and showed them a way to rectify the situation,” Preeti said. “I’m happy that we were able to help these units because I would much rather they make mistakes during a training exercise rather than when they are dealing with real money.”


    Date Taken: 07.03.2012
    Date Posted: 07.03.2012 19:48
    Story ID: 91082
    Hometown: WEST NYACK, NEW YORK, US

    Web Views: 308
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