[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                        June 12, 2009
Training

Diamond Saber 2009 provides realistic training to finance management warriors

Sgt. Chris Pisano, The Real McCoy Contributor

       FORT MCCOY, Wis. — The military’s premiere multi-component financial management training exercise began June 1.

More than 600 Soldiers from 45 different units comprised from Army Reserve, National Guard and active-duty components of the Finance Corps gathered to participate in Diamond Saber 2009.

Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Francisco Pacheco, 469th FMC, New Orleans, La., teaches about military pay. (Photo by Sgt. Chris Pisano)
Sgt. 1st Class Francisco Pacheco, 469th FMC, New Orleans, La., teaches about military pay. (Photo by Sgt. Chris Pisano)

And these finance warriors were on the money.

"Diamond Saber provides realistic training for financial management warriors of all components incorporating lessons learned to assist in their preparation for deployment to a theater of operations," said Lt. Col. Robert Craft, commander of the 336th Financial Management Center (FMC), from Lake Charles, La., and exercise director of Diamond Saber 2009.

The training also provides commanders of units the chance to assess their Soldiers’ capabilities and preparedness for deployment and then to help determine what additional training is needed back home based on areas of concern identified in the exercise, he said.

"Diamond Saber gets the troops in battle-sync," said Sgt. Maj. Mario Reyes, sergeant major of the 336th FMC and senior finance operations adviser for Diamond Saber 2009. "Our goal is to have a mission-ready Soldier by providing classroom and hands-on training. We will train as we will be expected to perform in-theater."

The extensive training concerning military money matters covers the four core competencies that support the finance corps’ mission: disbursing, military pay, vendor pay, and resource management. Additionally, automated finance systems are taught at Diamond Saber. The first week is comprised of troops in classrooms being taught by instructors rich in finance experience. The second week consists of Soldiers participating in scenarios that simulate actual finance conditions in-theater.

Such a massive gathering of Soldiers from varying backgrounds definitely provides a thorough training environment. However the chance to hone in on finance specific skills not often executed is what really pays off.

Photo: Extensive classroom training helps Soldiers involved in Diamond Saber learn about financial management matters. The training is derived from battlefield scenarios. (Photo by Sgt. Chris Pisano)
Extensive classroom training helps Soldiers involved in Diamond Saber learn about financial management matters. The training is derived from battlefield scenarios. (Photo by Sgt. Chris Pisano)

"These are highly perishable skills," said Craft. "For example, we don’t do disbursing in the states anymore, but in-country you have to know how. Diamond Saber gives the Soldiers a chance to practice these skills they are expected to know when they go overseas. And our trainers have been there, done that and lived the dream in-theater."

Keeping the training as current as possible is another critical improvement to this year’s Diamond Saber exercise. The U.S. Army is transitioning from the "legacy" system — the old way of doing things — to a new modular system.

Now, instead of a U.S. Army Finance Command having control over all finance elements in-theater, with the new modular structure these finance elements are placed directly under the sustainment brigades on the ground.

According to Craft, the 336th FMC was the first unit deployed overseas to actually use the modular structure in a real-world environment. So when unit members came back from deployment they deposited a wealth of knowledge withdrawn straight from the battlefield and completely overhauled the Diamond Saber training scenarios to more accurately reflect how things are actually being done in the sand box.

"Actual deployment experience has helped to refine the Diamond Saber experience. These skills are battlefield tested," said Craft, a veteran of three deployments and two Diamond Saber exercises. "The majority of the finance Soldiers here have been deployed at least once."


"Our goal is to have a mission-ready Soldier by providing classroom and hands-on training. We will train as we will be expected to perform in-theater."

Sgt. Maj. Mario Reyes,
336th Finance Management Center

Another focus during this year’s exercise was the increased emphasis on working with the Financial Management Support Operations (FMSPO) officer, who acts as a liaison between the sustainment brigades and the financial management companies in an integrating role monitoring and tracking financial management operations throughout the area of operation.

"The doctrine has changed, but the mission is still the same. Diamond Saber 2009 is the first time the new structure is being replicated and the first time the FMSPO concept is being fully implemented in training," said Reyes.

While the 336th FMC may be the unit hosting this colossal event, it’s truly a multi-component exercise and effort with a lot of other units volunteering to help out.

"This Diamond Saber is a year in the making," said Craft. "Without the support of all the units involved it could not have happened."

"It’s like a jambalaya with a lot of ingredients in it," said Reyes. "And we got a lot of cooks stirring that jambalaya. So by the end, we’re going to have a nice taste of jambalaya."

Originally an Army Reserve-only exercise, Diamond Saber has grown in participation over the years to include extensive contributions from the National Guard and active-duty components.

"There are approximately as many finance Soldiers at Diamond Saber as there are in Iraq. And the finance community is really small. So multi-component training like this really facilitates networking, which pays dividends," said Craft.

Camaraderie definitely plays an important part of Diamond Saber, according to Reyes.

"Here you get to meet other finance elements and get to work with them and then when you see them again down range you’ve already established a working relationship," he said. "It facilitates the get-to-know-you factor. You can cut down on that meet-and-greet and just get to business."

And these days business is good. With new innovations in place for this year’s exercise the training is hard like a diamond, but the Soldiers are sharp like a saber. It only reinforces the importance of the vital role of the U.S. Finance Corps in the U.S. Army’s overall mission.

"You can’t afford to go to war without us," said Craft, "and Diamond Saber helps prepare our finance Soldiers to deploy."

(Pisano is a member of the 361st Public Affairs Operation Center, Fort Totten, N.Y.)

 

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