It’s been said that armies prepare to fight their last war instead of their next, but the U.S. Army Financial Management Command is aimed at making that nothing but just an old adage when it comes to funding the fight of the future.
In that effort, USAFMCOM launched a new banking short course, which will be conducted via a hybrid model July 5-Nov. 18.
“The next major conflict will happen with a speed and lethality that mankind has never seen before,” said Col. Greg Worley, U.S. Army Finance and Comptroller School commandant. “We are a force-projection Army, which means we need to be able to rapidly open a theater to project decisive force to anywhere in the world.
“We either take everything with us or we buy it along the way. There’s no in-between,” Worley added. “Between the U.S. Army Contracting Command and our Finance Corps, it’s critical to ensure we can do the latter, and USAFMCOM is getting ahead of the curve in training our people to do that.”
U.S. Army banking officers and NCOs are charged with establishing relationships with host-nation banking institutions, evaluating them as potential partners and negotiating operating agreements with them to finance theater operations.
“The way the Army pays twice a month and in host-nation currency makes it the customer-of-choice for banks in a competitive environment,” explained Worley. “In the next major conflict, which will likely be on another continent, the resources will be limited, so being the customer-of-choice is critical to securing the banking resources we need.”
Army banking professionals also work hand-in-hand with the U.S. State Department and embassies to ensure the Army isn’t doing business with sanctioned entities or inadvertently providing money to businesses funneling money to adversaries.
“As we fix our eyes on large-scale combat operations against potential near-peer adversaries, we need to build the skills and abilities our Soldiers and commanders will need to fight and win the next war,” said Capt. Jose Rivera, USAFMCOM banking officer and course program manager. “And, we know we are going to need multiple banking teams due to the potential distributed nature of the future battlefield.”
Currently, USAFMCOM partners with Armed Forces Bank for a year-long Training with Industry banking course, but that training course only provides the Army with one banking officer and one banking NCO each year, and the program is only available for the active component.
“You train for the known and you educate for the unknown, and the new banking short course is education and training combined,” said Worley. “The known is we know we are going to need banking and banking support in the next war. The unknown is to the scale required.”
To be prepared for whatever the scale necessary, the short course will be held three times a year for a total of 18 Soldiers from the regular Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard.
“The course will give them a snapshot banking operations and provides them with the tools they may use one day supporting a theater commander as banking officers and NCOs,” said Rivera.
It will focus on understanding banking industry practices; laws and international considerations; host-nation bank liaison responsibilities; financial institutions on DoD installations; sanction impacts; financial institution evaluation; and how to establish a limited depositary account.
Students will also learn more about anti-money laundering, Bank Secrecy Act compliance, and counterfeit and fraud investigations.
“This short course gives everyone, across all three components, an opportunity to build a bench of officers and NCOs that understand the fundamentals of banking,” said Worley. “And, if we engage in a theater where multiple banking systems are used, we will have the ability to get the right people with the right talent at the right place and time.”
The hybrid model of the course involves two online training sessions through the American Bankers Association, a one-week onsite visit with the Armed Forces Bank in Kansas City, and one week in Indianapolis with the USAFMCOM banking officer.
“The last phase at USAFMOCM is the one where we bring it all together and everything clicks,” explained Rivera. “They’ll be engaging with real-world scenarios and putting together recommendations to our leadership on courses of action so they know they can talk the talk and walk the walk.”
USAFMCOM is also working with the Army Finance and Comptroller School to establish a personnel development skill identifier for graduates of the course.
“By taking this course, those NCOs and officers will be able to add this to their record as an additional identifier and showcase to their leaders they are trained in this mission set,” said Rivera. “Not only that, but they are also showing that they are motivated to better themselves as finance and comptroller professionals and are willing to step outside their comfort zone to make that happen.”
“It’s professional development and helps you perfect your craft,” agreed Worley. “If you’re a finance and comptroller professional, you understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, and this course provides you the situational awareness as to what’s important and how that cash shows up.”
Applicants should be finance and comptroller Soldiers in the grades of E-6 through E-8 and O-1 through O-3. Eligible Soldiers seeking to apply for the course can contact Rivera at email@example.com.