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The 3d Sustainment Brigade
Embraces Finance

The brigade’s experience in Iraq demonstrates how finance is being integrated
into the mission of sustainment brigades under the Army’s modular transformation.

Since the Army transformed into a modular force, changes to the chain of command have affected
where finance units receive their technical guidance. During the transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn, the 3d Sustainment Brigade assumed responsibility for managing the finance footprint for the entire country of Iraq.

Because the brigade accepted finance as one of the most important commodities across the Iraq theater of operations, the transformation of finance operations from a stovepiped organization into the sustainment brigade’s modular structure was fully realized. The result was to make finance
operations a combat force multiplier on the battlefield.

Soldiers of the 82d Financial Management Company count Iraqi dinars for a contract payment. (Photo by SPC Cody Miller, 82d Financial Management Company)

Finance Organizational Transformation
Before its transformation, the structure of finance units was similar to that of other branches. The finance group was commanded by a colonel, the finance battalion was commanded by a lieutenant colonel, and the detachments were commanded by captains. On the noncommissioned officer (NCO) side, there was a command sergeant major at the group level, a command sergeant major at the battalion level, a first sergeant at the battalion level, and sergeants first class at the detachments. When finance units deployed, the detachments were colocated with brigade combat teams
but still reported to the finance battalion, which in turn reported to the finance group. The charts below show the finance organizational structure before and after transformation.

After transformation, the finance group was converted to a financial management center (FMC).
The Army finance structure before transformation.

Although the FMC has no mission command of lower-level units, it still has a colonel as director and is responsible for providing policy and other technical guidance to finance companies.

The FMC makes policy on matters such as limits on check cashing, casual payments, and how much cash each company can hold to sustain operations. The FMC also has an internal control section that travels to finance companies and conducts on-the-ground inspections. The FMC has a central funding section that resupplies the companies’ cash during contingency operations.

The finance battalion was changed to a financial management company (FMCO), and the lieutenant colonel commanding the battalion was replaced by a major commanding the FMCO. The administrative support the finance battalion used to provide is now typically provided by the Sustainment brigade’s special troops battalion (STB).

Once the finance brigade and battalion were transformed, finance units lost all the finance command sergeant majors in their chain of command. The sergeant major is the senior technical adviser to the FMCO commander. The company also has a first sergeant, who serves as the top NCO in the chain of command instead of the sergeant major.

Although the FMCO is smaller than the battalion staff was, it still has an internal control team that works for the commander, the central disbursing office, a resource management team, an automation team, the finance operations office, and the headquarters section. The former battalion headquarters is now a company headquarters of 27 Soldiers normally aligned with 3 financial management detachments totaling 105 Soldiers.

The detachments remain very similar to their old structure, but the modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE) is structured for team missions to outlying forward operating bases (FOBs). The financial management detachment consists of 26 Soldiers, organized into 3 financial management support teams (FMSTs) that conduct forward financial management missions. Since the transformation, when the detachments deploy, they report to a FMCO that now falls under the STB, a subordinate unit to the sustainment brigade.

Impact on the Brigade
The addition of finance as a commodity to the 3d Sustainment Brigade created a learning curve for the FMCO, the STB, and the brigade. The interaction among the brigade, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the U.S. Forces−Iraq comptroller (J−8), the theater and division resource management comptrollers (J−8 and G−8), the Army Finance Command, and the supported brigade commanders is unique to finance.

Those technical relationships, which used to be maintained by the battalion, are now maintained at the company and brigade levels. The finance technical chain now goes from the FMCO commander to the brigade commander. The 3d STB is not responsible for any interaction with outside
finance agencies. A finance cell in the brigade support operations (SPO) office advises the sustainment brigade commander and serves as a link between the outside agencies and the FMCO. The SPO position is critical to keeping the brigade commander informed and up to date on all finance
issues.

The brigade financial management SPO (FM SPO) is important to both the sustainment brigade commander and the FMCO. The FM SPO brings finance issues to the brigade commander and converts the finance information contained in reports into information that can be used to make decisions on the battlefield. The FM SPO also forwards the sustainment brigade commander’s guidance to the FMCO in finance terms. As the FM SPO does this, the learning curve flattens and both entities become more synchronized.

A brigade tends to track money in the same way that it tracks commodities such as water, fuel, and ammunition. The traditional finance disbursing officers’ way of tracking and ordering money is different from the resupply metrics used by other commodities. Funding for a finance unit is
governed by many factors that are unique to the finance function, such as how much local business the local bank can accommodate, how many nonroutine payments to local civilians (such as weapons for cash and the Commander’s Emergency Response Program) are made, or how many Logistics Civil Augmentation Program contracts have a need for cash payments. This was where the FM SPO uses the Department of Defense Financial Management Regulation and logistics reporting methods to eventually get everyone synchronized.

The FMCO-STB Relationship
As the FMCO’s technical relationship with the 3d Sustainment Brigade was being perfected, its tactical relationship with the battalion was much more seamless. The transition to falling under an STB improved mission command between the brigade and the FMCO commander. The FMCO commander now has a battalion to process administrative actions, provide tactical support, and provide field grade-level Uniformed Code of Military Justice authority. The technical aspect of the previous finance battalion is held at the sustainment brigade, while the tactical authority was held at the STB.

In garrison, the STB had the task of understanding Soldier taskings as part of the garrison finance mission. When Soldiers were required to be at a formation during the duty day or were put on detail, the garrison missions suffered. In- and out-processing, separations, and mobilizing and demobilizing at the home installation required all available Soldiers to keep up with the inflow of newly arriving or departing troops. Pulling one or two Soldiers out of the office created a bottleneck in processing operations. Once the STB personnel understood the garrison mission, they quickly adjusted to supporting garrison responsibilities however possible.
This chart shows the Army finance structure after transformation as a commodity added to the sustainment brigade.

The Brigade Finance Cell
The 3d Sustainment Brigade deployed with two majors and one master sergeant in the SPO section based on the MTOE for Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn in 2010. Since the concept of having finance expertise in the brigade was new and loosely based on field and technical manuals, other brigade commanders adjusted their personnel and strayed from the MTOE in order to find a better fit with the mission after transformation.

The focus of the finance cell at the brigade was to track and report all transactions conducted by the FMCO in both the finance offices and on FMST missions. In addition to tracking the number of dollars spent, the brigade also conducted cash verification missions every quarter. These missions were crucial to ensuring that the finance units maintained and spent cash on the battlefield prudently and accounted for it in order to meet financial management regulations. These audits were performed 4 times per year at 15 different locations, which helped keep the brigade from having any major losses of funds during its rotation in Iraq.

Besides monitoring, tracking, and reporting daily business, the brigade SPO finance cell planned several courses of action and advised the commander on how to adjust the finance footprint during the reduction of forces in Iraq to 50,000 troops. As the overall footprint of Soldiers decreased, the need for finance support remained.

In addition to cashing checks and making casual payments to Soldiers, the need to pay contracts to local civilians and contractors, finance paying agents, and clear and process the paying agents’ business was constant. This is why, as the Soldier count decreased, the need for support at all of the FOBs remained. When the brigade commander was directed to reduce finance forces by almost 50 percent, he paid meticulous attention to how to maintain support to all of the remaining FOBs with half as many finance troops.

Adjusting the Finance Footprint
Since the finance detachment is designed to be broken into three support teams, the brigade permanently split the detachments between two FOBs located in the same general vicinity. Each detachment had two of the three teams attend to daily business on their respective FOBs, while the third team moved from one remote FOB to another that surrounded its area of operations.

All three of the teams were occupied with trying to support the whole country with the limited manpower they had on hand. In order to do this, it was imperative that the brigade commander was aware of the specifics of the finance mission and the demand for finance in each region of the
country. He was also aware of the challenge the detachment commander had in providing mission command to his small teams at remote locations.

In addition to adjusting the footprint of finance support to meet the needs of the warfighter on the
battlefield, the brigade commander reduced the finance administrative footprint from two FMCOs
to one. Although Field Manual 1−06, Financial Management Operations, mandates that each finance company have three to seven finance detachments, the brigade commander did not see an issue in reducing the FMCO footprint to one company with eight detachments.

After welcoming finance into the sustainment community and gaining knowledge of finance activities, the 3d Sustainment Brigade clearly saw that relieving one finance unit from deploying and shortening another’s deployment timeline was the right thing to do for this mission. This relieved the finance community of the necessity of deploying a FMCO to Iraq, thus streamlining operations in Iraq and
gaining efficiency and effectiveness along the way.

After seeing the transition and the attention the sustainment brigade put into making the finance mission relevant and successful, it is apparent that finance has been embraced into the sustainment brigade and the logistics community. In the 1980s, finance belonged to the division support commands before becoming separate brigades for the corps. In the 1990s, finance Soldiers fell under battalions and brigades.

Now, finance Soldiers are controlled by FMCOs under the sustainment brigades, where finance operations are integrated into the overall sustainment plan for supported units. Because of this seamless integration, financial support is treated as every other commodity and gains the attention
and support of a brigade that is habitually linked to the overall support of their customer units. This ensures that finance operations remain a combat force multiplier on the battlefield.

Major Terry Sullivan is the executive officer of the Army Financial Management Command’s operational support team. He was the brigade financial management support operations officer-in-charge for the 3d Sust ainment Brigade during the brigade’s deployment to Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn in 2010 and 2011. He previously served as commander of E Detachment, 126th Finance Battalion, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and as disbursing officer of the 230th Finance Battalion at Forward Operating Base Ironhorse, Iraq.


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