Since the days of ancient Rome, armies have rallied under flags, which serve as symbols of unit cohesion and are used to show the peaceful transfer of command from one leader to the next.
Such remained the case as the Soldiers and civilian employees of the U.S. Army Financial Management Command witnessed the command’s flag, also known as colors, transfer to Col. Paige M. Jennings during an assumption of command ceremony at the Maj. Gen. Emmett J. Bean Federal Center in Indianapolis July 15.
“Throughout my career and in my short time in this command, it is unbelievable to see the unceasing efforts of what we do here [in USAFMCOM], taking care of people and making sure that we build readiness, one transaction at a time,” said Jennings in her first official address after assuming command.
“This is an incredible day in terms of another opportunity to recognize the history and lineage of this organization,” said Gen. Edward M. Daly, U.S. Army Materiel Command commanding general, who presided over the ceremony. “This organization is the Army’s execution arm for all finance and comptroller operations throughout the whole Army, and that’s a spectacular mission set.”
Jennings noted that many of the command’s employees were currently engaged around the world as they deploy more and secure electronic commerce technologies; build business intelligence capabilities; prepare for the upcoming fiscal year end closeout; train finance and comptroller Soldiers as they deploy; and ensure the Army is auditable and accountable to the American taxpayer.
“The people that work in this organization, they’re the unsung heroes, and they really set the example in the terms of professionalism, competence, and in terms of their dedication and selfless service,” said Daly. “It is critical, it is important, and it is foundational to what our Soldiers and their families need…so, know that you are making a difference.”
“You all don’t miss an opportunity at all to make a difference each and every day, and as your new commander, I promise you that same level of dedication and excitement as we go forth on this mission together,” Jennings added. “Looking ahead at what the future has for all of us here in USAFMCOM, I want you to know that I am truly excited about the limitless possibilities here to serve our Army Soldiers, civilian employees and their families.”
“When we look at an organization like this, it needs great leadership,” Daly said after listing several of USAFMCOM’s major accomplishments. “We turn to the best and brightest, so it’s by no chance today that we are bringing in a great commander in Paige Jennings.”
Jennings, a native of Missoula, Montana, began her Army career in 1995 after graduating as a distinguished military graduate from the University of Montana’s ROTC program with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with an accounting emphasis.
“In 1995, on this very day, I took the oath of office, pinned on my second lieutenant bars at the University of Montana and started my journey in the Army Finance Corps,” Jennings recalled.
However, Daly said Jennings’ journey to this point started long before that.
“I want to recognize Paige’s parents, Alan and Natalie Stohle because Paige doesn’t get here by chance,” he said. “She got here because of great support and a great foundation that you instituted as parents, and we really appreciate all that you have done to make Paige the officer and person she is today.”
Jennings also gave credit to her parents for both their roles in her life and for their service as educators for more than 40 years each.
“They absolutely made me the person I am today,” she agreed.
The week also held another special milestone for USAFMCOM’s new commander and her Missoula-native husband, Larry Jennings, as the two celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary two days after the ceremony.
“Larry, I’m so excited. We started a journey 28 years ago, and I am so happy that you are able to be here with me,” she said to her husband. “I love you very much.”
The colonel also thanked her daughter, Amanda, and son, Laurence, for their support throughout her career.
“Your dad and I are so very proud of all you have accomplished and all you will become, and we are so excited to watch as you continue to grow and mature,” she said to her children.
With history and memories in abundance, Jennings offered another tie from the present to her earliest days in the Army.
“After graduating from the finance officer basic course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, I went to my first duty station in December 1995, and there I was greeted by the best team a brand new, young second lieutenant disbursing officer could ask for,” she recalled. “There were Sergeant Hunter, Specialist Ade, Specialist Barkley and a fantastic young corporal by the name of Kenneth F. Law.
“Yes, that’s right, Sergeant Major Law, who now serves as USAFMCOM’s command sergeant major,” Jennings continued. “Twenty-five years later, I have the privilege of working alongside an incredible NCO, who along with many other incredible NCOs, molded, mentored and made me the officer I am today.”
Moving on from those early days, Jennings served in a variety of leadership and staff assignments, providing financial management, programming, budget and resourcing support to the Army, special operations forces and defense intelligence organizations.
According to her official biography, she served in Baumholder, Germany; the 101st Airborne Division and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky; Ft. Meade, Maryland; Ft. Eustis, Virginia; Ft. Belvoir, Virginia; Alexandria, Virginia; Austin, Texas; and the Pentagon.
She also served as the 8th Finance Battalion Headquarters and Alpha Detachments commander; U.S. Army Operations Support Element comptroller and deputy commander for resourcing; the Intelligence and Security Command resource manager; U.S. Army Futures Command Task Force Resourcing team lead; and AFC comptroller and director of resource management.
“She knows the Army,” said Daly. “You can look at her bio and you can see what it reads, but more importantly, you can see the power behind the assignments that have given her the knowledge, skills and attributes to be able to take the colors today and be able to move this organization into the future.
“There’s no doubt that she’s a great Soldier, she’s a fantastic officer, and she’s going to be a spectacular commander,” the general continued. “We wouldn’t be passing the colors to her today if we didn’t think that was the case.”
Speaking to the Soldiers and civilian employees she now commands, Jennings made several commitments.
“I will give you everything that I have and match you one-for-one in your efforts as we continue to serve the Army,” she said. “I promise I will listen and respect you, that I will provide you guidance, and that we will work side-by-side as we take the Army into the future.”
In return, the colonel laid out her expectations.
“I ask that you continue to innovate and move us forward, keep service at the forefront of everything you do, and continue to care for our Army as much as you have,” she concluded. “But, above all, take care of yourselves, your families and one another, because at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.”
USAFMCOM enables the readiness of America’s Army by serving as the Army’s focal point for all finance and comptroller operations while providing capabilities that facilitate accountability, auditability and stewardship.