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 June 25, 2010

News

Diamond Saber increases finance unit readiness

By Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery, 319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

More than 600 Soldiers from throughout the United States gathered at Fort McCoy for two weeks in late May and early June to take part in the seventh annual Diamond Saber exercise.

Diamond Saber is the Army’s premier annual financial management training exercise. It provides realistic training for financial management warriors of all components and incorporates lessons learned to enhance readiness and to assist in preparation for deployment to a theater of operations, according to Maj. Bill Keltner, the operations officer for the 469th Financial Management Center (FMC), a down-trace unit of the 143rd Expeditionary Support Command (ESC), based in New Orleans.

PHOTO: Finance Soldiers participate in the Diamond Saber exercise at Fort McCoy. The training helped enhance Soldier readiness. Photo by Spc. Scott D. Matheson
Finance Soldiers participate in the Diamond Saber exercise at Fort McCoy. The training helped enhance Soldier readiness. Photo by Spc. Scott D. Matheson

The first week of the two-week exercise was classroom training designed to get the Soldiers proficient in the many skills required for the second week of the exercise.

During the second week, the Soldiers set up a mock finance center and began operations. Some challenges Soldiers encountered during week two were assisting role players seeking to cash their checks, funding Eagle Cash cards, and resolving pay issues.

Though this is the seventh year Fort McCoy, has hosted this exercise, Keltner says that it continues to improve each year by adding different classes and scenarios for Soldiers to gather hands-on experience.

“Unique to this year’s exercise was enhanced training and scenario role play for all resource-management and financial-management support operations participants,” the Mobile, Ala., native said.

“The objectives of the resource-management and financial-management support operations portions of the training are not only to increase expertise and skill levels,” he continued, “but also to merge all our finance, resource-management, and sustainment team members into a capable force ready to deploy for full-spectrum financial-management operations overseas.”

“Diamond Saber is the only multi-component financial-management exercise in the Army that realistically depicts the structure and up-to-date, theater-based scenarios that provide our financial-management Soldiers a unique training opportunity prior to their next Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom deployment,” said Col. Matthew Sims, the director of both the 469th FMC and Diamond Saber 2010.

Sims said it is no easy feat to bring together all the personnel involved in making Diamond Saber 2010 possible, but said it is worth the effort because of the value it brings to the Army and the financial-management warriors. According to Sims, more than 25 financial-management units comprised of more than 500 participants and 200 supporters were involved in the exercise this year.

One of the financial detachments at this year’s Diamond Saber was the 24th Financial Management Company’s Alpha Detachment. While most of the Soldiers in this detachment have attended Diamond Saber in the past, one Soldier in the detachment has not and says he feels the experience here is invaluable.

Capt. Paul Waldoff, the commander of the 24th FM Company, Alpha Detachment, will deploy with his detachment this year for the first time.

Although he has deployed twice before to Iraq as a cavalry officer, this will be his first time to Afghanistan, and his first time in a finance position.

Waldoff, a Hattiesburg, Miss., resident credits Diamond Saber for getting him ready to go overseas and operate in a combat zone. He said it has specifically helped his Soldiers gain more confidence in their skills and grow stronger as a team.

“Between classroom training and the following week of technical scenarios, Diamond Saber has afforded me the opportunity to assess my detachment,” said Capt. Jon Phillips, commander of the 33rd FM Company, Bravo Detachment. “This, in turn, will allow my sergeants and me the opportunity to utilize our most precious resource, training time.”

On the second day of the scenario training, distinguished visitors had the opportunity to visit the training site. Col. Michael Mann, deputy commander of the 143rd ESC, was one of those visitors.

“Having been to Afghanistan before, I have a real appreciation for what these Soldiers are learning here and what Diamond Saber is doing to help prepare them for a deployment downrange,” Mann, an Arlington, Va., resident, said. “It’s a priceless event.”

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