Photo Information

Col. Michael E. Cordero, comptroller for Regional Command Southwest, speaks with Brig. Gen. Ghulam Farouq Parwani, deputy commander of the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps, during a meeting at the Afghans’ headquarters at Camp Shorabak, Helmand province, Sept. 17. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to fix pay problems existing within the 215th Corps.

Photo by Cpl. Bryan Nygaard

Marines help Afghan soldiers fix pay problems

24 Sep 2011 | Cpl. Bryan Nygaard

Marines with the Comptroller’s Office for Regional Command Southwest met with financial representatives from the Afghan National Army’s 3rd Brigade, 215th Corps to discuss pay problems at the Afghans’ headquarters at Camp Shorabak, Helmand province, Sept. 17. Brig. Gen. Ghulam Farouq Parwani, deputy commander of the 215th Corps, and Col. Washamee Sayeed Zamaadin, the financial manager of the 215th Corps led the meeting.

Each of the financial representatives from the different battalions within the 215th Corps, which consists of roughly 15,000 Afghan soldiers, was unanimous in reporting that their soldiers sometimes go months at a time without receiving a paycheck.

The Comptroller Marines serve a unique role in the counterinsurgency fight. One of their more important tasks is allocating money from RC(SW)’s billion dollar budget for different mission requirements throughout the command. Given their skill set in financial management, the Marines were present at the meeting to advise the financial managers within the 215th Corps.

“What we were doing today was addressing how do the finance people communicate and work with the administrative personnel to make sure everyone gets paid properly,” said Lt. Col. Gary Rotsch, the deputy comptroller for RC(SW) and native of Alton, Ill.

It was discovered that one of the main causes of soldiers not getting paid is the process which the 215th Corps administrative personnel use to collect their information.

“Everything is hand-written,” said Rotsch. “It’s an administrative process where the individual goes in, sits down, fills out those specific entries and somebody is writing it on a piece of paper. There are multiple flaws in that type of system that things can break down along the way, resulting in an individual not getting paid. There are so many chances for somebody transposing a number, somebody not getting a name right…there’s a lot of things that could happen.”

Many of the Marines in the Comptroller’s office have been in the Marine Corps more than 20 years and can remember the days of similar problems in the U.S. military.

“We got our first computer at the battalion level in ’86,” said Rotsch. “They’re not even there yet. They don’t even have computers at the battalion level. There’s no difference between what we were doing 40 years ago and what they’re doing now. The only thing we did is we’ve replaced technology.

“Most of our Marines[today] only know computers. We don’t do anything without a calculator, we don’t do anything without excel or a database. Very limited moving parts – it’s all done electronically.”

The Marines are currently developing a partnering program with the financial managers and administrative personnel within the 215th Corps to help them standardize their operating process across the various commands to make them similar.

“There’s a lot of issues that we’re trying to get with them on,” said Rotsch. “We want to get down to the basics with them, to standardize it, to do things repetitively, over and over again to where it’s ingrained in them.”

Ultimately, the Marines are working to ensure that Afghan soldiers are operationally effective.

“When you’re working with somebody on finances the first thing I always want to convey to people is, if you’re getting paid, then you can think about other things,” said Rotsch. “If you’re worried about your pay, you’re not going to be able to worry about your job. But if you’re getting paid properly, you’re getting fed, you know that your family is being taken care of, then you can focus on the mission at hand.”