Rooted in tradition as old as Rome itself, the rank of colonel is one that has not only commanded men throughout history, but still commands respect today.
Lt. Col. Ralph “Mac” Crum, U.S. Army Financial Management Command finance accounting oversight and field operations chief, and Lt. Col. Andre Brown, USAFMCOM assistant chief of staff for operations, learned they were selected for promotion to the rank of colonel at the Maj. Gen. Emmet J. Bean Federal Center here recently.
“This selection is a recognition of both officers’ professional achievements, outstanding work and devotion to duty,” said Maj. Gen. David C. Coburn, USAFMCOM commanding general. “They’ve proven themselves as both competent leaders in their career field as well as men of high character who are ready for greater responsibility.”
“This was completely unexpected, but it was a joyous, joyous occasion,” said Brown, a Moreno Valley, California, native. “I’ve always tried to just do my part.”
Crum, a Canfield, Ohio, native echoed that sentiment.
“For me, it’s the realization of a dream,” he explained. “Every rank is special, but this is one rank that especially blends both areas of comptroller and finance operations, and those are the jobs I want to be able to lead and do my craft.”
In total, the Army considered 2,985 lieutenant colonels for promotion with only 14.2 percent selected. In the field of finance officers, 46 were considered with only 30.4 percent selected.
Both officers said they were most excited about the opportunities they will have to make a difference in the lives of the Soldiers and civilians they will soon lead.
“For me, there won’t be a change in who I am as I always try to stand on truth, whether that’s regulations, policy guidance or my moral compass because there has to be responsibility and accountability, especially at the O-6 level,” said Brown, who is heading to be a U.S. Naval Postgraduate School instructor. “I’m looking forward to having honest discussions with senior leaders about the issues that concern Soldiers and civilians to continue promoting the Finance Corp and what we can influence as financial managers.”
“I latched on to Army life, the premier idea of selfless service,” said Crum, who earned his commission through ROTC after graduating with a degree in English from Youngstown State University, Ohio. “I’m overjoyed with being selected because this is a new day to wake up, put on my uniform, serve and mentor Soldiers, bring them into financial management, and make sure our branch as a whole is always moving forward.
“I want to take everything I learned, through education, experiences or mistakes I’ve made, and push that down to a new group of people who are coming into the Army, or midway through their career, and give them the right leadership and mentorship,” he continued. “I want to encourage them to roll up their sleeves and get dirty in finance.”
Looking back, both officers said their selection was owed to not only their hard work, but the people in their lives who’ve supported them.
“I wouldn’t be on the promotion list if it wasn’t for the shoulders I stand on – the civilians here, the noncommissioned officers and my family, especially my wife,” explained Brown, who was a prior-enlisted automated logistics specialist prior to earning his commission after graduating from Alabama State University with a degree in finance. “I’ve always looked up to the NCO corps because they are the ones who execute this mission. I owe a lot of my success to them.”
The history of colonels began around 1505 when Spanish King Ferdinand reorganized part of his army into twenty units called “colunelas.” These consisted of approximately 1,000 men further organized into companies with their commander being named a coronel.
The French, and later the British, adopted the title, and although initially retaining the original Spanish pronunciation, the British soon used the pronunciation of 'kernel' that is used today.
U.S. military colonels rank above a lieutenant colonel and below a brigadier general. The modern day insignia for a colonel is a silver eagle with a U.S. shield on its chest and holding an olive branch in one talon and a bundle of arrows in the other.
The eagle insignia led to the informal term “full-bird colonel.”
Dates for the selectees to pin on their new rank will vary.
A direct reporting unit to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management & Comptroller, USAFMCOM provides finance support and liaison on matters pertaining to the adequacy of finance policies, systems and reporting requirements to Army commands, component commands, direct reporting units, installations, tactical units and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
USAFMCOM also performs Army-wide, unique actions such as financial management unit technical training, electronic commerce and classified finance and accounting oversight. The command is also responsible for the delivery of Army-wide Financial Management functions including enterprise resource planning systems support, audit and compliance support, financial operations support, ERP business process standardization support and Army field financial management activities operational oversight.
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