To meet the pacing challenge of China and the acute threat posed by Russia, U.S. Army leaders directed the most significant reorganization and technical innovation since the end of the Cold War, and key to their plans is financial management and sustainment of Soldiers around the globe.
To that end, the U.S. Army Financial Management Center was activated as the 45th Finance Center under the U.S. Army Financial Management Command during a ceremony at the Maj. Gen. Emmett J. Bean Federal Center Nov. 6.
“In a ceremony cloaked in a simple, yet time-honored tradition, we witnessed both the start of something new for our command, our Finance Corps, and our Army, as well as a continuation of a legacy of excellence older than our nation itself,” said Brig. Gen. Paige M. Jennings, USAFMCOM commanding general. “We bring forth distinguished service and lineage of the 45th into the USAFMCOM family – a merger that couldn’t be more critical given the uncertainty in today’s world, full of its own challenges.”
And, meeting those challenges will take the financial management and resourcing that only the now reactivated 45th FC is now poised to provide as the Army’s sole financial management center.
“The 45th FC is not just a unit,” said Lt. Col. Jason Shick, 45th FC acting director. “It’s a symbol of our Army's recognition of money as a weapon system to sustain our Army, deter our enemies and crush our adversaries, if called upon to do so.”
The activation of the 45th FC stems from a series of changes to the Army’s Finance Corps outlined in a Force Design Update Jr. that was signed earlier this year.
Per the FDU Jr., it was determined by Army senior leaders 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.
It was also determined that theater-level planning across the Army was limited in tactical and operational finance synchronization, coordination and integration.
“These challenges hindered finance units from providing support and services to ensure freedom of action, operational reach and prolonged endurance to operate during the continuum of competition, crisis and armed conflict,” said Donald Houston, USAFMCOM Strategic Initiatives Group director.
“Our world is marked by rapid change, evolving threats and complex financial challenges,” elaborated Shick. “Our mission is more critical than ever, as we ensure that the financial machinery of our Army remains robust and efficient – supporting our Soldiers in their mission to protect and defend our nation and its Constitution.
“Make no mistake, we are primed to meet these challenges head-on, adapting and evolving, just as the world around us does,” he continued. “But, this time, we must do it faster than ever before, and more importantly, faster than our adversaries.”
As USAFMCOM’s operational arm and early deployer, the 45th FC is required to be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. To accomplish this, 45th FC Soldiers will be assigned to USAFMCOM but will be located with Regular Army Theater Sustainment Commands.
Once fully operational, 45th Finance Center Soldiers will conduct theater preparation operations; provide timely procurement and theater disbursing support through the establishment of central funding operations; enable joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational operations; establish, coordinate, maintain and troubleshoot finance systems used in theater; and enforce policies and guidelines established by the Department of the Army and strategic enablers.
“We will be the Finance ‘tip of the spear,’” said Shick.
Being at that point of attack is not something new for the 45th FC, which draws its legacy back to World War II when the unit was first activated in 1943 as the 45th Finance Disbursing Section here on Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis – nearly in the exact location where it was reactivated 80 years later.
“Our nation was facing a new threat and warfare was advancing at lightning speed,” said Jennings. “Our Army needed a unit that could provide critical financial support across the European theater.”
Upon deploying to the United Kingdom in 1943, the 45th FDS initially supported the 1st Bombardment Division of the 8th Army Air Force, earning a Presidential Unit Citation for the air offensive in Europe.
Landing in Normandy just one month after D-Day, the 45th FDS served through the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central European campaigns.
The 45th FDS continued to serve in Europe as the Cold War ramped up and inactivated for just three years before reactivating in 1958 with the U.S. presence in Europe more established.
Over the next 30 years, the unit provided service to more than 8 million U.S. Army Soldiers who served in Germany through the Cold War.
During this time the 45th was reorganized and redesignated three times. It became the 45th Finance Section in 1964. Next it was redesignated the 45th Finance Center in 1984. And, in 1988, the unit became the 45th Finance Support Unit. The 45th FSU was once again inactivated on July 15, 1994, in Germany.
For its 2023 reactivation, nearly 20 of the unit’s former members were in attendance, coming in from all over the country. Most of them served with the 45th FS in the mid-to-late 1970s, but Bruce Fonda, a Korean War veteran, was the oldest former member in attendance. Fonda served in the 45th FS from 1965-1967.
“Your legacy, the foundation upon which our unit was built, is a source of inspiration and a reminder of our heritage,” said Shick to former 45th members at the ceremony. “The knowledge and experience you bring are invaluable, and we are committed to honoring the legacy you established.”
Jennings concurred, stating that the 45th FC will honor its past by carrying their mission forward.
“The Army’s purpose remains timeless and clear: to fight and win our nation's wars,” Jennings concluded. “We are a global force that fights when called upon at the scale required, and I have no doubt that the current and future Soldiers of the 45th FC will carry on the legacy built by so many and serve with distinction and honor serving to protecting our freedom and our nation.”
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.