A keystone was set in place in the financial archway that delivers Army-wide precision financial operations to the battlefield.
That keystone represents, and is now worn by, Ryan A. Busby, U.S. Army Financial Management Command deputy to the commanding general, who was inducted into the Senior Executive Service during a ceremony at the Maj. Gen. Emmett J. Bean Federal Center Nov. 2.
“I want you to know I am committed to being the same person I have always been – approachable, engaged and ready to roll up my sleeves to tackle problems head on,” said Busby to a packed USAFMCOM auditorium and hundreds of others gathered online to watch his induction. “I promise to highlight and showcase your successes and to stand as a buffer as issues come up while we work through problems.”
Busby first joined the USAFMCOM team in August, but since 1978, SES leaders have led the Army civilian employees in key positions just below the top Presidential appointees.
And, according to the Army, senior executives represent the pinnacle of civilian leadership within the service. They also serve as an essential bridge between the military and the 330,000 Army civilian employees, providing critical leadership, expertise and continuity.
“This exemplifies Mr. Busby’s dedication, leadership and unwavering commitment to our nation’s defense,” said Brig. Gen. Paige M. Jennings, USAFMCOM commanding general, who hosted the ceremony. “Without a doubt (his) dedication, loyalty and expertise makes (him) a tremendous fit for our command, the U.S. Army, and as a member, now and into the future, of the Senior Executive Service.”
The ceremony audience was split between USAFMCOM employees and employees of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, where Busby began his civil service career in 2006.
“You’ve got the right experience to be a successful senior financial manager and leader in USAFMCOM,” said Greg Schmalfeldt, retired SES and DFAS Indianapolis director, addressing Busby and in agreement with Jennings. “You’ve got the right leadership qualities; your technical understanding of the business is going to be critical to your success; you think strategically, and you set clear vision to achieve the right results.
“You’re also optimistic and positive, and you demonstrate energy to inspire staff to come up with good ideas to move the Army forward,” Schmalfeldt added, explaining that’s what’s needed in the SES Corps.
And, thanks to its critical role in government and the Army, a keystone serves as the insignia for the SES.
“They are the solid rock that holds everything in place,” explained Jennings added. “They ensure our Army will stand the test of time.”
And, just like the keystones that built many of our nation’s most iconic arches, Busby got his start in the Hoosier state.
A native of Frankton, Indiana, a state known for its limestone and agriculture, Busby grew up in a farming family that grew beans, corn and wheat. His family also owned an apple orchard and a local donut shop.
“It was working in the donut shop where he told me that he learned what it meant to work hard, be part of a team to ensure that the mission got accomplished if everyone helped out,” recalled Jennings. “He also learned how important it was to be willing to do all parts of the job, no matter how mundane, time-consuming or hard, and it’s this work ethic and dedication to accomplishing the mission at hand that continues to carry with him today.”
Busby credited those early years along with his mentors at DFAS and, most importantly, his family’s support in making him who he is today.
“I am here today because of a village that has been behind me every step of the way,” he said, calling his wife, Lisa, his best friend and the best thing that ever happened to him.
Aaron Gillison, DFAS deputy director for operations, concurred with that assessment and praised Lisa, who also works for DFAS as an accountant, for encouraging Busby to reach beyond his humble nature to maximize the impact of his leadership and technical expertise.
Gillison said those traits already paid big dividends for the Army and the rest of the nation’s service members during Busby’s tenure at DFAS, including an issue they tackled together while working Wounded Warrior pay at DFAS.
Gillison said that service members who perform special and hazardous duties as part of their job often get special entitlements, but those entitlements used to stop if they were wounded in combat because they were no longer able to perform them.
That loss in pay often put hardship on the families of some of the nation’s most elite operators, he said.
“One of the examples we presented to Congress was a Navy Seal who made $1,100 more a month because of special duty pay,” recalled Gillison. When the Seal was injured in combat, his family stopped receiving that pay, which they had built their household’s budget around.
“Ryan came with us to Congress, and was in some very contentious meetings,” he continued. “We used Ryan’s model to get a law changed in support of Wounded Warriors, and it normally it takes 5-6 six years, but we did that in a span of 1-2 years.”
As a result of those efforts, those wounded in combat continue to receive the extra entitlements they and their families need.
Jennings said she’s excited to have someone with Busby’s experience and tenacity at her side along with the benefits Busby may have in bridging the gap with the command’s DFAS partners.
“When I look around the room, the amount of executives and employees who’ve come into the room, both virtually and in the room here, and made time, shows me how much they care about you, how much they believe in what you’re going to bring to the Army, and how important this relationship is,” the general said. “I want to call that out because this is about a family, and this is about how we collectively move the Army forward.”
“Look around this room,” Gillison concurred while addressing Busby directly. “This is the combination of capabilities we bring to the fight, and you are in a position to have an opportunity to influence the fight.”
USAFMCOM delivers precision enterprise-wide financial operations to integrate, synchronize and sustain the battlefield through the Joint Strategic Support Area and directly supports the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller in their role as the principal advisor on all matters related to financial management and comptrollership.
As one of the world’s largest finance and accounting operations, DFAS supports military and civilian customers with financial excellence and quality pay services.