CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Financial management technicians deployed here with the 266th Finance Support Center are employing cutting-edge counterterrorism techniques to provide commanders new avenues through which to combat their adversaries.
The 266th FISC, based out of Kaiserslautern, Germany, was chosen by the Army’s Finance and Comptroller branch to serve as a pilot for introducing counter threat finance (CTF) strategies—techniques that have been utilized by Special Operations Forces Soldiers for a number of years—into the repertoire of the conventional Army’s financial management technicians.
The unit, which deployed here in June in support of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command and U.S. Army Central, has been working the strategies into operations taking place throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. CTF activities include, but are not limited to, creating financial profiles, conducting suspicious activity report reviews, performing commodity flow analyses, and exploiting financial documents.
“Money always moves with a purpose,” said Maj. Jon P. Evans, the policy and plans officer for the 266th FISC. “It’s fun to be able to be this close and be able to determine what that purpose is and to be able to influence it—to be able to disrupt, or inform to prevent or disrupt, an adversary’s ability to raise, use, move, or store money.”
Evans, a native of Greenwood, Arkansas, said the unit’s CTF-related efforts are focused on three lines of effort.
“First is what we call fiscal preparation of the environment,” he said. “We’ll go in and do an economic analysis of a country or a region and see who the key trading partners are, how much U.S. spending goes in there, look at their banking network, and just look at some other macroeconomic indicators like unemployment, inflation, [and] levels of corruption.”
Secondly, the 266th FISC supports the efforts of various targeting boards.
“We use that fiscal preparation of the environment, the FPE, to develop a finance support package, and then that FSP will go into a targeting process to look at individuals or companies to either prevent them from doing business with the government or to produce other effects,” Evans said.
The third line of effort is training. Evans said the Soldiers lead CTF training sessions every Saturday, and they are encouraged to earn professional certifications in CTF-related subjects like money laundering and cryptocurrency.
“Now that we’re moving away from kinetic strikes, we’re kind of moving away from combat operations, this is another way for us to continue to hinder the adversary’s ability to conduct operations against us,” said Sgt. 1st Class Willie J. Cole, the 266th FISC’s senior enlisted advisor. “Sometimes when you think about finance you just think about military pay, you think about dispersing, but there are so many other things you can do on the cool side to make effects.”
Cole, a native of Jackson, Tennessee, became proficient in leveraging CTF capabilities when he was assigned to SOF units in the past.
“We can make a huge impact on the battle space right here within the Finance Corps,” Cole continued. “CTF gave us an opportunity to kind of get more on the operational side. That’s what I personally see as a great advantage and what drives me to achieve that for [our intelligence] partners. We’re not the action arm, but we kind of feel like we’re feeding into that.”
Evans said the 266th FISC is capturing lessons learned so that their successes can be replicated in the other FISC units. They will also produce a white paper that can help inform the enterprise of the benefits of leveraging CTF capabilities in the conventional realm.
“Right now, it’s going to be briefed to some Army senior leadership in the next couple of weeks, so we look forward to seeing the results of that,” he said. “Then we hope to take it back to Europe and expand our capabilities there because what we’ve been able to do here with research on specific individuals and vendor bidding, we hope to replicate that back in Europe supporting EUCOM and AFRICOM.”