FMSC rehearses dual finance mission

Story and photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jacob McDonald 21st Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

Soldiers from 266th Financial Management Support Center receive training during a mission rehearsal exercise held Aug. 5 on Kleber Kaserne.
Soldiers from 266th Financial Management Support Center receive training during a mission rehearsal exercise held Aug. 5 on Kleber Kaserne.

Soldiers from the 266th Financial Management Support Center, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, prepared to conduct dual missions from the Middle East and home station during a challenging mission readiness exercise held Aug. 1 to 5 on Kleber Kaserne.

With only about 15 of the unit’s Soldiers preparing to deploy for the nine-month rotation, half of what would normally deploy for the mission, the unit is relying on its unique global position to ensure the mission is successful.

“We will have to do a lot of dual hats, a lot of cross training, and that is what this evaluation is exercising,” said Capt. Aurelio Varela, 266th FMSC plans officer. “We are falling in on a mission set where the tasks themselves haven’t decreased. The missions are still the same. … But we are only going there with 15 (Soldiers).

“The main reason we are going with 15 is because we have unique reach-back capabilities here in Germany,” Varela added.

With only a one-hour time zone difference, the unit is counting on their location in Germany to support the deployed team and make up the difference.

“Normally, an FMSC would deploy with around 30 to 34 Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Glenn T. Simpkins, 266th FMSC interim director. “Because we are here and we consider ourselves theater-committed and engaged in this theater, we are deploying a smaller team. We believe only the 266th can do the mission with this number because, unlike other FMSCs, this is what we do every day.”

In an effort to make the training as realistic as possible, the small team split into two groups and worked from different offices to replicate the separate countries they will operate out of. The physical barrier simulated the challenge of working together despite a geographical separation.

“They can’t walk over there and say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’” Varela said. “That’s the first time for an exercise like that here because it is the first time the FMSC has been split-based. So this week has been testing that system, how sections communicate back and forth and how they use the reach-back here.”

As they worked through scenarios, an eight-man operational support team evaluated the team’s processes and skills to certify the training for the deployment.

“The MRX is really our capstone exercise on our ability to perform our technical mission while deployed,” Simpkins said.

Evaluations encompassed a variety of tasks, including cash management, banking and disbursing operations, commercial vendor accounting, pay support and other vital financial management functions.

“The end state is we’ll receive evaluations for every section on tasks that have been identified as critical tasks throughout the deployment,” Varela said. “An example is the cash management section will receive a specific evaluation on tasks on how to account for cash, how to move funds in and out of the theater, those sorts of tasks.

“This is the one week we can test all the systems,” Varela continued. “This is the only opportunity we will have to figure out where we stand and the best way to utilize the systems.”

Simpkins said that while deployed, the 266th FMSC Soldiers will provide oversight of all finance operations, including military pay, contract payments, funding and the flow of funds into and out of theater. Steady state missions, meanwhile, will continue at home station throughout the deployment.