CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION BASRA, Iraq – United States currency may soon become difficult to find in Iraq as part of an effort to protect Soldiers and increase the value of the Iraqi dinar.
Sgt. Brittany A. Raimer, a dispersing manager with the 368th Finance Management Company, out of Wichita, Kan., 36th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), said eliminating the use of U.S. currency on the battlefield will help to stimulate the economy of Iraq.
"One of the main focuses of finance is to ultimately eliminate U.S. currency from the battlefield," said Raimer, a Lake Charles, La., native. "Our government is implementing the use of the Iraqi dinar, to both undermine the dependency the Iraqi nationals have on American currency and to back the Dinar, greatly increasing its weight on the market."
The use of electronic fund transfers to pay vendors and contractors, and urging service members to rely on the Eagle Cash Card, rather than cash, are two major changes that have been implemented in Iraq to eliminate the use of cash, said Raimer.
"The Eagle Cash Card enables personnel to have a direct link to the bank account without the hassle of hard cash," said Raimer. "The stored value card has been instrumental in effectively moving toward a cashless battlefield."
Sgt. Toni M. Guillery, a dispersing agent with the 368th FM Company and a Lake Charles, La., native, said the Eagle Cash Card is designed to help prevent service members from losing money or being robbed while in country.
"Carrying a single card is better than carrying a wad of money in your pocket, but one concern that I do have is ... on the kiosks, you have to use a pin number in order to access the money, but when you go to vendors, you do not," said Guillery. "If you [fill the card] up to the max, and you lose that card, and somebody picks it up and finds it and they are a dishonest person, they can go and spend that money."
Guillery said the unit only disburses U.S. cash to service members who are about to go on mid-tour leave or re-deploy.
Guillery said the unit disburses less than $10,000 in U.S. cash per month, but disburses more than 351,000,000 (IQD), the equivalent of roughly $300,000, per month.
The current exchange rate is 1,170 to $1, said Guillery.
Raimer said the transition away from the U.S. dollar has aided the progression of the banking industry in Iraq.
Raimer said, "The progression [away from U.S. currency] has greatly supported the modernization of the banking system, thus improving and instilling trust in the local economy.