By Loni Witscheber, Triad Contributor
Improved finance training at the U.S. Army Reserve Pay Center (UPC)
at Fort McCoy helps to ensure Soldier integrity and high morale for
the 300-plus Soldiers from approximately 10 different finance
detachments taking the course in 2005.
Students from various Army
finance detachments concentrate on course work during the
required one-week Finance Training Course at
. (Photo by Loni
The training is required for all deploying Army Reserve and
Army National Guard finance detachments. The finance training began in
1996, when Soldiers were being deployed to Bosnia.
"There were no significant problems during the Bosnia
rotations because only a few thousand Soldiers were mobilizing at a
time," said Maj. Mario R. Beckles, deputy chief of the UPC.
"If we had a significant problem, we could very quickly,
within a period of one to two days, solve the problem and it was
This was true up until Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation
Enduring Freedom, Beckles said. The
problems multiplied due to the large number of Reserve and Guard
Soldiers being mobilized, so the finance training had to become much
more formalized and standardized.
UPC instructors teach classes on the Defense Military Pay
Office -- Reserve-component software, Reserve pay entitlements, and
the Defense Joint Military Pay System-Reserve Component.
A new Reserve-pay system, Forward Compatible Pay, is scheduled
to be implemented next summer.
Soldiers are given a 10-question midterm and a 15-question
final practical exercise to gauge their knowledge.
They are allowed to use notes, training material, and the
Internet -- just not their "buddies." Beckles said Soldiers
are given the same tools and scenarios they'd get in theater and at
the end of the class, they receive a graduation training certificate,
which for some can mean promotion points.
"It's very important. The certificate makes everyone pay
attention more and reassures us that we have their full attention
during the week," said Capt. Douglas R. Kissell, a Reserve Pay
"It's neat to see that transformation in just a few days
from when students started off knowing basically nothing to being
ready to tackle finance scenarios by the end of the week," said
Kissell. "It's very important what we do during that one week.
Six to eight months from now, the units will be very thankful they
went through this training."
Last year, 429 Soldiers from 19 different finance detachments
trained at Fort McCoy.
"Last year, I had to adapt to the Soldiers schedule.
They're at war and getting ready to go to a war zone,"
said Beckles. "Weekends
and holidays went out the window as we adjusted our normal schedules
to accommodate them."
Beckles said the training has matured since then.
The week-long finance training is now at the front-end of a
Soldier's schedule before mobilization training to avoid classroom
interruptions. In addition to training deploying Army Reserve and
National Guard Soldiers, the UPC also trains active-duty Soldiers
deploying to Iraq and civilians interested in Reserve pay.
Finance instructors from Fort McCoy have been sent to Fort
Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Campbell, Ky.;
Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Lewis, Wash.; Fort Shafter, Hawaii; various
installations in Germany, etc., to provide finance training.
Beckles said it's more cost effective to send two to three
instructors to an active- Army installation, instead of flying 28-30
Soldiers to Fort McCoy. Beckles said the 84th U.S. Army Reserve
Readiness Training Command provides
valuable assistance to the UPC.
"The 84th provides instructors for the first day of the
course, who provide instruction on basic entitlements," said
Beckles. "Their extra
help has really been appreciated."
Beckles said this training also would not be possible without
the UPC military pay technicians stepping forward and providing their
time and expertise.
The instructors and class are evaluated by student critiques
and the U.S. Army Finance Command.
The information gathered is then used to make annual revisions
to the course in early January.
is a Public Affairs specialist for VT Griffin, contractor for
Base Augmentation Support Services.)