Gulfport Soldier Sends Greetings From Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Every Thursday, soldiers from the Combined Joint Civil- Military Operations Task Force disbursing office visit servicemembers throughout Kabul, to cash checks and give casual pay.

The soldiers, airman, and Marines that serve at the Kabul Military Training Center, the Embassy and International Security Assistance Force have no other finance support. Without the team coming weekly, many of them would have no chance to buy souvenirs, necessities from the Post Exchange in Bagram or mail items home.

The three-man Task Force Devils team is here as a disbursing team, funding local contracts and projects. The soldier support they provide is an additional duty. But every Thursday, the team from Ft. Bragg, N.C., Sgt. 1st Class Cosmos Williamson, Staff Sgt. Isaac Moody and Spc. Asher Wright, pack up to bring a finance office to the troops.

Moody is the accounts payable and finance non-commissioned officer in charge. Since he arrived with the advance team of the Task Force Devils, he has been working several different issues to help support the military assigned throughout Afghanistan. The Thursday trips are merely one way of helping the troops.

Spc. Deborah Humphries, 747th Military Police Company, South Bridge, Mass, is assigned to KMTC and appreciates their efforts, "They come over here and support us. This allows us to get money out of our bank accounts."

At the U.S. Embassy, Lance Cpl. Bill Turner, 36 K Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, Camp LeJeune, N.C., was also very happy for the support the team provides.

"It works out pretty well, because sometimes we have the chance to go to the Bazaar around here. It's hard to get money if you leave everything at home, checks and all that. It helps a lot."

Turner doesn't get the opportunity to go to the CJCMOTF compound. Without these trips he has no other way to get money. There is more to the mission than just cashing check for a soldier. Many of the soldiers are Army Reserve or National Guard members and have had problems with their pay or entitlements.

"I took on an additional role of taking care of all the Reserve pay, National Guard side of the house, that's the main focus right now," Moody said. "Most of the entitlements or the pay issues that the soldiers actually had were stemmed from not being taken care of from their home station."

He has been working on pay issues for every one assigned to Afghanistan. To prevent other pay problems, Moody and the finance team at K2 created a different process. Each soldier's pay had to be input each month.

Moody says, "Instead of having to regenerate and regenerate, we have a thing now that we are going to pay the soldiers for a period of six months."

Most reservists are on active duty for six months. But if they are on a longer tour, or have been extended, there needs to be paperwork given to finance so their pay continues. Moody says it very important that they go through finance or personnel if their tour is shorter or longer than six months.

Many of the teams only come in once every couple of months. In order to get these soldiers money, Moody started arranging for the pay agents to issue casual pay. This has had a big impact at the outlaying areas.

"They've been extremely happy," says Moody. "Being that we are a three-man team, and we support a lot of soldiers, we can't be out to all areas. If we go out to these areas, it means we'll be out of the office, so the mission can't go on like that."

By giving the pay agents the authorization for casual pay, it supports the soldiers in the field. Moody says that casual pay is the easiest for most soldiers, since they don't want a lot of money on them or spend a lot of money.

"A lot of the young soldiers don't have checking accounts, and prior to their being called up they never thought they'd need checks going to war."

Regardless of whom he serves, his motto is to always be there for any military member. Moody believes in "One team – one fight."

By Sgt. Valerie Dey-Bolejack, 109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Reprinted from Freedom Watch, April 3, 2003