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NEWS | Dec. 7, 2023

Inaugural Finance, Sustainment Symposium charts future

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

It’s been said the only thing constant in life is change, and that’s true for the Army’s Finance Corps since its inception just two days after the Army’s founding in 1775.

Now, as the Army rapidly transforms to meet shifts in threats around the globe, its senior finance, comptroller and sustainment leaders joined nearly 180 other Soldiers and Army civilian employees from around the globe to chart future transformational efforts during the inaugural Finance and Sustainment Symposium at the Maj. Gen. Emmett J. Bean Federal Center in Indianapolis Nov. 7-9.

“[We need] to identify what is the right path to put the U.S. Army finance and comptroller community and profession so that we can best support the U.S. Army as the Army continues to move forward,” said Lt. Gen. Paul. A. Chamberlain, Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller. “The Army is also transforming over the course of the next several years into the Army of 2030 and then into the Army of 2040, so what is it that we need to do in order to support that Army?”

Nearly two years ago, Army senior leaders determined that commanders’ reach from the battlefield to the Joint Strategic Support Area for finance operations was not aligned to support large-scale combat operations and multi-domain operations necessary for the 21st Century. So, the Army launched a restructuring of the Regular Army Finance units, which is currently underway.

The goal of this restructuring is to address the challenges of Army finance units and ensure freedom of action, operational reach and prolonged endurance to operate during the continuum of competition, crisis, and armed conflict, according to the Force Design Update Jr. documents directing the restructure.

“We know the Army's going more to a division-led structure, so as a finance and comptroller community, we have to think about what organization or what unit is going to be the center of gravity when we go into LSCO…and then how we support that effort with as much as we can,” said Sgt. Maj. Terry L. Anderson, Jr., Office of the ASA (FM&C) senior enlisted advisor. “We’re also going to have to get back to the basics, our finance basics, at different echelons.” 

And, it’s been awhile since the finance and comptroller community took a comprehensive look at themselves in such a manner.

“This was the first time we actually sat down to talk as a community since 9/11 about how we actually open a theater,” said Brig. Gen. Paige M. Jennings, U.S. Army Financial Management Command commanding general. “At the end of this, looking across the [doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, education, personnel, facilities and policy] spectrum, we will find a few gaps that we are going to be able to turn over to the [U.S. Army Finance and Comptroller School] and to the [U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command] that we can start to work on.”

As part of the ongoing restructuring, the Army’s three active component finance support centers inactivated, and their mission of preparing a theater transitioned to the newly activated 45th Finance Center under USAFMCOM’s umbrella.

“Not only do we have to talk about the 45th FC and how prepare a theater, but we have to talk about how the battalions are going to go in with early entry teams, how the Guard and Reserve come in and backfill us, and how we tie in with the resource managers and core-level G8s,” said Jennings.

“Things are changing in the Army…we're transforming our organizations, but many things are enduring, and our reliance upon the Finance Corps to do your core functions will continue,” explained Maj. Gen. Mark T. Simerly, CASCOM and U.S. Army Sustainment Center of Excellence commanding general. “They are necessary, and they are relevant, so you all should understand that you have a vital role to play.

“And, as we think about tough challenges of sustaining the fight in the [United States Indo-Pacific Command] area of responsibility, you can just imagine how relevant it is to think about setting up a theater,” Simerly added.

And, those core functions, or core competencies, have changed significantly over the last two decades. 

“Back then, we weren't a merged branch where you talked financial operations and resource management, but those two core competencies are now intricately tied together,” explained Jennings.

“So, you'll hear a lot from the [FCS] about how we're going to integrate and synchronize both finance operations and resource management moving forward,” added Col. Michelle Williams, FCS commandant and Chief of the Finance Corps. “So, this is a really important step, but it’s just step one.”

The next major step will be in April when the FCS hosts the second Finance and Sustainment Symposium during Regimental Week to further hammer out the way forward.

And, while the focus of these symposiums is on the future, they are also leveraging lessons learned from the past by bringing in several former finance and comptroller senior leaders as mentors.

These include Robert M. Speer, former acting Secretary of the Army and ASA (FM&C); retired Lt. Gens. Karen E. Dyson and Thomas A. Horlander, former Military Deputies to the ASA (FM&C); retired Brig. Gen. Mark A. McAllister, former U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute commanding general; and retired Command Sgts. Maj. Billy Pantoja and Paul Morrissette.

“We’re pushing some 20 years ago when our branch was going through the last major evolutionary event, and now, 20 years forward, we have the benefit of hindsight,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis N. Dodge, FCS senior enlisted advisor and Finance Corps regimental sergeant major, to those at the symposium, including the senior mentors. “That's why you're all gathered here today because there are gaps, there are holes in our swing.”

For their part, the senior mentors said they were excited to get to work in helping shape the Army’s future.

“For a lot of us senior mentors, we're thrilled you're looking at your role within the Army, you're looking for the gaps, looking for the capabilities, and you're opening the dialogue to folks out here who have a perspective, too,” said Speer. “You always need to take perspective of what's right for this nation, what's right for the Army, and then what's right for the Finance Corps.

“And, the amazing thing is what's been right for the Army has been the Finance Corps,” he continued. “Your role changes, how you do it, the tools that you get, the material solutions. They always have been trained properly or integrated, and that's why this is so important.”

Also serving on the symposium’s senior-leader panel were Brig. Gen. Rebecca B. McElwain, OASA (FM&C) operations and support director; and Command Sgt. Maj. Joy, L. Allen, USAFMCOM senior enlisted advisor.

The OASA (FM&C) is responsible for resourcing America's Army through sound financial management and comptrollership, from budget formulation to auditable financial statements.

USAFMCOM delivers precision enterprise-wide financial operations to integrate, synchronize and sustain the battlefield through the Joint Strategic Support Area and directly supports the OASA (FM&C) in their role as the principal advisor on all matters related to financial management and comptrollership.

CASCOM educates, trains and develops adaptive sustainment professionals for the total force while generating, synchronizing and integrating innovative Army and joint sustainment capabilities, concepts and doctrine to sustain LSCO and multi-domain operations with joint and multi-national partners for the Army of 2040.

The FCS trains, educates and develops FC warriors and provides DOTMLFP-P solutions to enable the Army to win in multi-domain operations.