Written by Spc. Michael Vanpool
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs
Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan – “Before I started working here, I never knew if I would get paid,” said a local Afghan, who is contracted as a construction worker on Bagram Airfield. “Now, I always have money for me and my family.”
Several local Afghans work on American bases, doing anything from construction to cleaning to laundry. Making sure they receive their paychecks falls into the hands of one office on Bagram Airfield.
The Contract Vendor Services office of the 101st Finance Management Company, Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade recently consolidated ten different offices into one central location to pay local nationals working on forward operating bases.By centralizing the payment of contracts with the local population, the CVS office alleviated the fragmentation of payment offices spread throughout Regional Commands North, East and Capitol.
“They weren’t intertwined, but now we’re all connected,” said 1st Lt. James Elkins, the officer in charge of CVS. “Consolidation was the solution.”
Now, the one office handles payment for soldier support, including locals working in the dining facilities, laundry and construction on bases. CVS also pays local interpreters and contractors delivering goods and services for the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, Elkins said.
CERP provides humanitarian assistance for cities and villages outside the walls of FOBs and outposts here. School, hospitals and other public areas are built or improved with the program. Local Afghans are hired to provide the assistance by CERP teams, and they are paid by the CVS office.
Both workers on and off the wire are paid through electronic funds transfers, just like a direct deposit paycheck in the states, said Staff. Sgt. Jeffrey McArthur, the non-commissioned officer in charge of CVS McArthur is with the Charlie Detachment, 9th Finance Management Company, attached to the 101st Finance Management Company from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA.
The CVS pays an average of $1.4 million each day for the local contracts, and about $50 million per month is paid for services and projects through RC North, East and Capitol, Elkins said.
Before the office was consolidated in April, a finance office at each major base in the three regional commands paid the contracts in their area. However, with ten different offices, there would sometimes be confusion as to which office would inevitably make the payment, and the vendors would go to separate finance offices to get paid, Elkins said.
The 101st FM Company pulled the ten divided CVS offices and housed them under one roof at the company’s headquarters on Bagram Airfield, and a contracting officer representative was left at each location. The smaller finance offices provide monetary support, through cash and financial advice, for service members in the major FOBs.
The office is continually seeing soldiers report in and out. Five different detachments make up the Finance Company, and the soldiers of the CVS are constantly coming in and leaving.
“Every month we’re training new people,” McArthur said. “They have to come up to speed quickly to keep up with the heavy workload.”
The central location keeps the local workers paid quickly, giving them steady pay for themselves and their families.
“It maintains the peace within the country by providing money and eventually infrastructure in this country,” Elkins said.