AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
As military bases are constantly replenishing their supply of service members, aircraft and other assets, the finance shop is turning and burning away with budgets, vouchers and many other financial duties.
The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Financial Management office at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, is responsible for nearly everything related to monetary funds for the installation.
“FM’s mission here at ADAB is to set the annual budget for the base operations,” said Master Sgt. Chad Lawrence, 380th AEW disbursing agent. “We control the Government Purchase Card program, as well as Air Force Central Command’s budget for ADAB. We support all military; U.S., foreign and civilian contractors; provide cash transactions; start entitlements; travel and Defense Travel System vouchers and questions; and issuing Eagle Cash cards. These are just a small portion of our duties and responsibilities.”
A big part of their duties is helping the people of ADAB – no matter how big the task.
“All different people come in with questions and/or concerns regarding their military pay,” Lawrence said. “We try to do our best to answer their questions and get the issue resolved in a timely manner.”
There are a select few places where everyone assigned to ADAB has to go, and the FM office is one of them. Whether they are setting up an Eagle Cash card for personnel to make personal purchases or starting entitlements for pay, this team is always on the go.
“We are extremely busy and our day does not end after we close for customer service,” Lawrence said.
Long hours aren’t the only possible hardship this team could face. Whether lengthy nights or hundreds of customers a day, no matter the circumstance, they always prevail.
“There was a time when we were behind schedule with processing entitlements,” said Staff Sgt. Ellis Robinson, 380th AEW customer service technician and cashier. “About 1,200 members needed their entitlements to start. Some have been in the AOR for almost 3 months. Tech. Sgt. Kayla Kappel figured out the appropriate Excel Spreadsheet format that is required for the system to gather the information so Al Udeid Air Base can audit our work and process the request. Keep in mind (that) customers are still coming into Finance asking for currency conversions, DTS help, etc. A lot of hours (and) pressure were put in to make things right.”
This kind of hard work comes from collaborating within the team – where most personnel don’t realize they see only the tip of the iceberg of the Finance mission.
“Finance is the unsung hero,” Robinson said. “We have to budget and request to ensure the mission can be complete. Whether it is paving roads, fueling jets, or making sure the permanent party Airmen can attend Temporary Duty Assignment or conferences, it goes through Finance. When members in-process and they’re eager for their entitlements to kick in, they go through Finance. Helping complete DTS vouchers so members’ GTC is paid, they go through Finance. Helping contractors get Dirhams without paying fees – Finance. Everything tends to flow through Finance.”
Realizing how significant they are to not only ADAB personnel, but also anyone that steps foot on the installation, this small but mighty shop always feels involved in the mission.
“Finance touches all base operations – from providing funding for de-rubberizing the airfield to providing cash to Navy SEALs to carry out their mission downfield, FM is involved in every aspect of the mission!” said Maj. Christopher Wilkes, 380th AEW comptroller.