Texas finance team provides support for all of western Iraq
Story and photo by Sgt. John Stimac
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
AL ASAD AIR BASE, IRAQ — Soldiers of A Detachment, 15th Financial Management Company, 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) out of Fort Hood, Texas, supply financial assistance to all military personnel and Department of Defense civilians in the western region of Iraq.
The unit's main hub is at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, but platoons travel to remote Forward Operating Bases with as few as 20 Soldiers, to provide financial support and assist with any pay problems that may arise during the deployment.
Staff Sgt. Tre Porter, a disbursing agent noncommissioned officer and a Detroit native, said they also work with the paying agents to purchase goods and fund projects around western Iraq.
"We run operational missions to Ramadi, Ubaydi and (Camp Korean Village), in order to get those Soldiers paid correctly if they are experiencing any issues," he said.
Porter said their everyday operations of cashing checks and setting up Eagle Cash Cards are mainly aimed at military personnel.
"We are making a big push to try to get all Soldiers to use Eagle Cash, to try to reduce the amount of U.S. currency in Iraq," he said. "Getting rid of the U.S. currency makes the Iraqi dinar and their economy better."
Sgt. Michael A. Mahan, the commercial vendor services noncommissioned officer in charge and an O'Falon, Ill., native, said he helps pay contracts to vendors that provide services in western Iraq.
"They range from life-support contracts all the way to buildings and roads," he said. "We also provide money for contractors to build schools and other off-post projects."
Mahan said these projects are paid through electronic funds transfer directly through the Iraqi banks, thereby utilizing the Iraqi dinar.
"This helps keep our currency out of their banks and it strengthens their economy," he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Darrel L. Baxter, the detachment sergeant for the 15th FMC and a Detroit native, said he oversees operations, making sure all offices are performing correctly.
Baxter said aside from their mission at Al Asad, the unit has weekly missions to smaller FOB's and bi-monthly missions to very remote locations in the western Iraq region.
"It's hard for some of those Soldiers that are at a FOB with 20 or 30 people; financial issues come up and we are here to take care of them," he said.
Baxter said the unit recently completed a transfer of authority with the 125th Financial Management Company, and had to shut down the office for a few days to do inventory and count money.
"We are back and it is very busy since we were closed for a few days," he said. "Our mission will stay the same, and that is to provide financial support for all Soldiers and (DOD) civilians."
Soldiers of A Detachment, 15th Financial Management Company, 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) assist service members with military pay issues March 15 at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.