We see them all the time – walking around the installation, wearing their digital-print camouflage uniforms. They go to the super market, collect mail, visit the bank, or grab their meals at the same establishments we do.
Each and every one of our U.S. Air Force Airmen serve a purpose in accomplishing the same mission, but do we really know what they specifically do? Can you confidently say that you know the job specifics of that one Airman you saw this morning running at the base track – sweating, panting and producing a bizarre and unnatural whistling noise from their throat every time they take a breath?
For those of you just as curious as me, welcome to the second entry in my blog series, “What do you do?” a series in which I, Airman 1st Class Timothy Kim, inform you of exactly what some of our Airmen do to ensure the success of our installation’s mission!
The series will be posted on a monthly basis, each entry identifying a specific Air Force Specialty Code and informing you, my readers, on:
-What they do
-How they do it
-Why they do it
So, without further ado, let’s go ahead and dive into today’s highlighted AFSC!
The AFSC 6F0X1 (The Financial Management and Comptroller Airman)
I knew them colloquially as “Finance” and there was only one thing that I knew about their job and what they do:
People handling money.
Okay, to be fair, I was mildly aware of what it is they do before I fully immersed myself in this project.
Here’s what I used to know:
The What: The 6F0X1 Airmen’s responsibility is mainly concerned with handling the budget of the installation and its people.
Here’s what I know now:
Members of the 52nd Comptroller Squadron (which is where our Finance management and Comptroller Airmen work) handles all financial and budget cases within the Air Force at the installation level. I know it sounds pretty simple, but it became quite clear to me during some of my interviews that – like everything in life – there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
Much like the way a car seems to run effortlessly down the road or the way a plane takes off and stays afloat thousands of feet in the air or the way your smart phone takes forever to update its operating system– just because it thought that now would be a great time to connect to a WiFi hotspot at the café where you’re supposed to be meeting your cute date – the 52nd CPTS seems to run a “simple” operation of handling its clientele’s cases, but there’s always so much going on behind the curtains. Looking at you, Oz. You ain’t fooling no one, little man.
Essentially, the 52nd CPTS and its 6F0X1 Airmen are split into two flights:
- The Financial Management Flight – Customer Service
- The Financial Management Assessment – Budget Analysis
These two sections handle different aspects of their responsibilities, but both work together to work toward the same mission. How? So you find yourself in the office of:
Financial Management Flight (FMF) Customer Service
Chances are if you’re at the FMF customer service office, you’re looking for several things: you’re either in-processing, got married, about to travel, about to deploy, out-processing or you got underpaid in this month’s paycheck and came here to get some answers.
According to U.S. Air Force TSgt Lloyd Mayberry, a 52nd CPTS financial management craftsman, the FMF is split into four sections that handle various aspects of your concerns listed above (and more).
- Military Pay
- Special Action
Military Pay handles things such as your financial records and statuses that would affect how much you’re getting paid. They look at your Leave & Earning Statement (LES) and can help explain to you why you ended up receiving a total of $400 as opposed to the usual $850 for this month. Because I worked real hard to make sure that I earned that money, and you have got to be kidding me how am I supposed to pay off the credit card bill I used to purchase my next-gen consol – erm, textbooks and classes and stuff.
Communicating with the Defense Finance Accounting System (DFAS), your finance Airmen working at Military Pay ensure they can correct any mistakes that may have ended up on your records.
If you’re going to be leaving the area, or want to discuss traveling in which you consume your leave, you’d be talking to Airmen from Travel.
The Travel Airmen (not an official duty title, btw) handles all client’s cases pertaining to changes made on a person’s records regarding their current whereabouts, as it directly affects the individual’s financial status.
If you’re in-processing or out-processing, you’d be changing your physical whereabouts, which needs to be recorded in order to determine how much Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) you receive – if you’re still not aware of how that factors in (which is fine, because it took at least an hours’ worth of interviewing for me to grasp the concept – sorry, guys!) your current duty station is still part of a living area which has a dictated cost of living. If you happen to live in an area that’s expensive to live in, you’d be receiving more COLA in your paycheck. Smashing! So in order to ensure that you’re receiving the proper COLA, Travel needs to know if you’re leaving, where you’re going, etc. Capiche? Good!
Special Actions, located on the floor above Military Pay and Travel, deals with the similar issues but deals with specific cases, namely: debts, remission waivers, separations, retirements and even pay reductions dictated by Uniform Code of Military Justice articles.
Disbursement is a small, armored cage that handles cash (the cold, hard kind, yadadamean?) but is also mainly responsible for receiving payments from people who owe the Air Force money, giving money to people the Air Force owes money to and also issuing payment vouchers to units assigned to contingency operations. Though they collect all those green stacks in their vault, they are required to turn the cash into the bank within 24 hours.
Chances are, most of you are keenly aware of Military Pay and Travel, perhaps even Special Actions, as some of us are may face financial concerns, and perhaps there are even fewer who visits the indestructible cages of the disbursement office, but there’s a side to the 6F0X1 Airman’s job that not many of us may know.
Financial Management Analysis (FMA) Budget Analysis
The FMA is more or less, as I perceive it, the sort of back side to the CPTS that not everyone sees or knows it exists. As I’ve stated earlier, the FMF is the side that everyone interacts with, but the FMA deals with more of the analytics and assessments of the installation’s finances.
OK, hold the phone… what does that even mean? I know it seems like I ask a lot of clarifying questions, and true, it may take me awhile to grasp advanced concepts such as “financial stability” and “budget plans” (whatever those are), but at least my thirst for answers will help you help me help you understand the delicate intricacies of this job. Anything for my dear, favorite readers (hi, Mom)!
In plain old English and according to U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jon Candelario, a 52nd CPTS financial management craftsman, FMA functions similarly to accountants. They plan, advise, counsel and help develop budget plans. For whom? The installation, of course.
Congress allots certain amount of money for us, and the FMA Airmen ensure pretty darn-tootin’ that we don’t exceed past the amount that Congress has authorized the U.S. Air Force to use. Cascading down from the top through the proper chain of commands down to our installation like a refreshing waterfall of flowing chocolate running down those wine glass things that are set up to look like pyramids (Mmmmm, chocolate), we receive funds which are then split amongst groups and eventually squadrons.
The budgeting process normally involves the squadron and group advisors, as well as their respective resource advisors, but the FMA budget analysts don’t just counsel – they also help plan the squadron or group’s budget for contingencies.
Say, though all this was accomplished, the squadron still requires more funds because they want to conduct training or need more equipment essential to the mission. Their respective resource advisor speaks with their FMA representative, who then speaks to the requesting squadron’s functional area manager to determine if the request falls within the parameters of their job requirement. Then they go ahead and send the request up the proper chain of command to see if they can get those funds.
Though this article doesn’t encompass the vast and detailed specifics of what our 6F0X1 Airmen do, it is my hope to ensure that you understand at a basic level that the FMF and FMA Airmen don’t just tap away on their keyboard, give you a toothy grin and say, “We’ll take care of your finances for you.”
Perhaps, my dear readers, this article has served its purpose in enlightening you on some of the gears that run behind the clock that allow the 52nd CPTS to continue to function and work hard for our installation. Without our Financial Management and Comptroller Airmen, our base would lose an important function.
Don’t believe me? Read it for yourselves from the 52nd CPTS!
According to U.S. Air Force Maj. Neil Harris, the 52nd CPTS commander, the Finance Airmen aid the adhesion that binds the base and its community together, promoting teamwork, efficiency and support.
“The Airmen at the 52nd CPTS work hard to get stuff right the first time,” Harris said. “They’re resourcing all units in the 52nd Fighter Wing, because without the money, the Air Force will experience great difficulty in being able to function and operate. It’s a team effort, and they’ve worked hard to get the job done.”
So, now that you know what Finance Airmen do, dear readers, could you please tell me:
What do you do?