NEWS | July 11, 2019

DFAS brings live coding, realism to Diamond Saber

By Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner U.S. Army Financial Management Command

It’s been said to “train like you fight,” and for financial management Soldiers preparing to deploy in the next year, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service brought a healthy dose of realistic training and experience.  

DFAS Defense Military Pay Office personnel brought more than 100 years of military pay experience to help train Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers preparing to deploy during the Army Reserve’s Diamond Saber 2019 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, June 18 to July 1.

Forty-five units took part in DS19, which is a financial management exercise that incorporates individual training and collective small unit training, as well as an assessment opportunity for commanders to see how well their units are performing, explained Michael Lindsay, DFAS Finance Operations director.

“The relationship with DFAS has been amazing,” said U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Karen Ardon, 326th Financial Management Support Center FM training noncommissioned officer. “They have really gone out of their way to ensure we are getting what we are requesting because they understand that we are trying to better our Soldiers’ training, and they have a passion for Soldiers’ pay.”

“From a DFAS perspective, military pay is our number one mission essential function,” said Lindsay. “We take it very seriously, so we partner with the Army to make sure that when Soldiers go down range…they are equipped to be able to perform.”

Part of that pre-deployment preparation was focused on processing active and reserve component military pay.

“Diamond Saber started 15 years ago and started as just death by PowerPoint,” said William Sterling, DFAS Fort Benning, Georgia, DMPO director, who explained the annual exercise has evolved to include live coding, where actual Soldiers’ pay is processed. “DFAS brings the right training,”

According to Lindsay, there were more than 9,000 live documents coded with over a 96 percent accuracy rate during DS19, which he referred to as “pretty doggone good.”

“A lot of (FM Soldiers) get more value out of doing live transactions and performing the tasks rather than listening to a PowerPoint or going through notional scenarios,” said Ardon, who was deployed in 2017 through 2018. “This really brings the realistic training they need to ensure they’re processing Soldiers’ pay correctly and accurately.”

Also bringing years of deployed and training experience were Soldiers from the U.S. Army Financial Management Command’s Operations Support Team.

“Diamond Saber was an incredible, incredible exercise this year,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Courtney Ross, USAFMCOM senior enlisted advisor. “That technical piece of it that those Guard and Reserve men and women are getting is the best training that they’ll get throughout the year.

“The things I saw last year at Diamond Saber are totally different than the things I saw this year,” Ross added, explaining even more realism is brought in by leveraging the experiences of units recently deployed. “The units that are in theater now, whether they’re in Afghanistan, Iraq or Kuwait, we bring those guys and gals back in to actually help facilitate the training.”

To Ardon and many of the DS19 staff, the exercise training was more than just technical knowledge.

“Military pay is very near and dear to my heart,” Ardon elaborated. “It ties directly to Soldiers’ morale as it allows them to focus on their mission without having to worry about if they’re getting paid on time or accurately.”

“It is our responsibility to help to prepare those Soldiers to make sure they are equipped with the information and the training they need to be able to take care of (their fellow) Soldiers,” Lindsay agreed. “When you’re deployed, there’s always a risk there, and when you are focusing on anything except your mission – your buddy to your left and right – then you put yourself at harm in addition to the overall mission.

“So, it very much is an issue of life and death,” he concluded.

Diamond Saber, the Army’s only large-scale financial management exercise, is designed to provide realistic technical training to regular Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard FM units through interactive scenarios and transactions based upon current policy in a collective environment. The exercise helps achieve the National Defense Strategy objectives of a more lethal force, strong alliances and partnerships, and greater performance and affordability.

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 DFAS.

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.

Stay connected with Diamond Saber at facebook.com/DiamondSaber and with USAFMCOM at facebook.com/USAFMCOM.