3rd Sustainment Brigade
Story by Sgt. Gaelen Lowers
The 82nd Financial Management Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), handed off operations Oct. 8 to the 15th FM Co., 3rd STB, 3rd Sustainment Bde., 103rd ESC, leaving the 15th FM Co. as the lone financial management company in Iraq.
The 82nd FM Co. was responsible for all financial operations across northern Iraq, while the 15th FM Co. handled everything in Multi-National Division-Central and South.
“We took a look at our footprint and the number of finance detachments that we were responsible for,” said Maj. Kenneth Heckel, commander of the 82nd FM Co., and a Fayetteville, N.C., native. “In order to support [the reduction of forces], it made sense to eliminate one of the headquarters and put [the financial detachments] all up under one financial management company.”
In February of this year, there were 15 finance detachments spread throughout Iraq. After the initial reduction of U.S. Forces Sept. 1, that number was reduced to eight, which left room to reduce the number of U.S. Forces even further by doing away with one of the finance headquarters.
The entire process of transfer took approximately two weeks, administratively speaking, said Heckel. That doesn’t include the time it took to move approximately $16 million dollars and Iraqi dinar from the 82nd FM Co.’s vault at JBB to the 15th FM Co.’s vault at Victory Base Complex, Iraq, which was completed Oct. 15.
For the 15th FM Co., this is the culmination of a mission that started 11 months ago, said Maj. Jason Shick, commander of the 15th FM Co., and Bremen, Ohio, native.
“When we first arrived, we expected to only have control of all finance elements in United States Division-Central,” he said. “However, a few days prior to our transfer-of-authority, we were notified that we would be assuming control of all financial elements in United States Division-South as well. Then, earlier this spring, we assumed control of the finance detachments supporting western Iraq.”
Shick said that besides the hard work of his soldiers and those of other finance soldiers, there have been other financial factors that have occurred in Iraq that have helped alleviate the transition.
The opening of Iraqi banks throughout U.S. bases in Iraq is one of those factors, said Heckel. By forcing contractors to open accounts with an Iraqi bank on the base, it will help improve the Iraqi economy as well reduce U.S. dollars on the battlefield, he continued. Reducing cash will effectively drive up the value of the Iraqi dinar, which has been hurt by the dollar.
“Throughout our deployment, we have been supporting the implementation of E-Commerce and a banking initiative to support and strengthen Iraqi business and banking infrastructure,” said Shick. “Working closely with the 326th Theater Financial Management Center, Task Force Business and Stability Operations, United States Army Finance Command, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, we will continue to develop and strengthen the Iraqis’ belief and confidence in their own banking system and businesses. The goal is when we are gone, the Iraqis will have an improved banking and business infrastructure.”
Although there are fewer finance companies and detachments in the country, the mission remains the same for the remaining finance units.
“The reduction to one company has no effect on the service to the soldiers, airmen, sailors, civilians, TCNs or local nationals who depend on payments for services performed, Eagle Cash Card loads and unloads, cash payments and individual soldier pay actions,” said Maj. Terrence Sullivan, the finance officer-in-charge with the 3rd Sustainment Brigade’s support operations and a Cleveland native. “The finance company is the headquarters for the detachments that provide those services and they are transparent to the individual who needs finance service.”
The scope of the 15th FM Co.’s mission, geographically speaking, is very large, said Heckel, but they are able to handle the challenge presented to them.
“It’s a daunting task from the geographical perspective of it, but from a financial management aspect, they can handle the financial transactions and the business they need to conduct,” he said. “I have no doubt they can handle the challenge.”
Shick echoed Heckel’s comments and has great faith in his soldiers and their mission.
“The remaining finance detachments located throughout Iraq have some of the most hard working and dedicated men and women supporting their areas of responsibility,” he said. “The transition we went through this past summer only showed the unwavering support each finance soldier is capable of providing, as we saw a significant reduction in our own formation, yet continued to provide critical finance support. However, we adjusted accordingly and have and will continue to provide our customers with support they need until our mission is complete. As long as there are soldiers and civilians for us to support, there will always be a finance soldier there to provide that support.”