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18th Financial Management Center helps open Afghan bank branch

September 4, 2012

By Staff Sgt. Peter Berardi

KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Sept. 4, 2012) -- Direct deposit and online banking, including using a smart-phone, is a common occurrence for many U.S. service members, but for members of the Afghan National Police simply getting paid can mean putting their life at risk.

For members of the Afghan National Police, or ANP, getting paid often requires a dangerous trip across the countryside and many ANP members just leave because it's too dangerous to get paid.

Now, members of the ANP don't need to worry about that. After an 18-month long process involving cooperation among many agencies including the Afghan National Police, U.S. Department of the Treasury, NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan and the expertise of the 18th Financial Management Center Banking team, the New Kabul Bank branch has opened at the Joint Regional Afghan National Police Center, or JRAC, in the Kandahar province, Afghanistan, July 25.

The JRAC is the largest Afghan National Police basic training post. Prior to the bank opening, getting paid involved a dangerous trip across the countryside to the next closest branch in Khandar.

Once Afghan recruits get done with their training, or half way through, they end up not staying, many of them just leave because it's too dangerous to get paid, said 1st Lt. Peterson Pierre, the 18th FMC deputy banking officer.

The Afghan leadership had expressed their need for financial infrastructure right on their compound, said Pierre.

"One of the biggest, most sought out things by everyone is money. They had to get paid, otherwise they would seek alternate employment, which often times means trouble," he added.

It is anticipated that more than 5,000 Afghan personnel will use the services provided by the newly opened branch of the New Kabul Bank, said Pierre.

"It will provide them with the financial infrastructure to pay their personnel and that should increase the retainability of their forces, which in return will mean that there will be more Afghan forces prepared, trained and ready to take on the mission after we redeploy," explained Pierre.

This should have a major impact on attrition. Now that personnel are more safely getting paid, explained Maj. Gen. Ehsas, the commanding general for the 404th Maiwand Zone Afghan Police for the Kandahar District. Having work that allows people to support their families keeps police safer and should lower the number of ANP officers leaving.

The 18th FMC Banking Team plays a crucial role in supporting U.S. Forces Afghanistan's efforts to support responsible economic transitions, and the U.S. Department of State's efforts to establish strong financial institutions within countries where military operations are conducted. The team's mission is to strengthen the host nation's banking.

Such services eliminate the security risks and costs that would otherwise be associated with finance personnel having to travel to a financial institution off post to obtain U.S. dollars or foreign currency to support deployed military and civilian personnel, explained Pierre.

"Their banking system is the main tool through which we go about doing that," he said. "The most viable piece of the experience is when we go in there and see these guys in line. It gives you a sense of accomplishment. Knowing that we are making a difference toward the right direction and having a potentially lasting impact is great."

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