FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- After five days of grueling physical challenges, tests of will power and military knowledge, four units from across the Pacific including one team of Marines, competed in the first Joint Pacific Paymaster Challenge on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, Sept. 17 -- 21.
The 175th Financial Management Support Center (FMSC) Fort Shafter, Hawaii, held its inaugural Joint Pacific Paymaster Challenge for INDOPACOM. The 5-day event tested the Financial Management teams on urban warfare simulations, demonstrating critical thinking, formal board interviews, physical fitness challenges, written exams, and warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today's operating environment while pushing teams to be resilient in a sleep deprived stressed environment. The tasks were chosen to emulate the basic tactics and techniques used by each of the services so one branch would not have an unfair advantage.
"This competition is the premiere event to test the combat readiness of our Financial Management junior enlisted soldiers typically across this theater." Said Lt. Col. Michael Mouritsen, Director of the 175th FMSC. "They are able to work together in an austere environment, challenge themselves physically and mentally to perform tasks under stress, physical stamina and make it through a full week."
In the early morning of day one, the competition started with teams transported from Shafter Flats to Bellows Air Force Station located on the windward side of Oahu in a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. For some, this was their first flight in a Black and definitely one they will never forget.
Upon arrival at Bellows, the teams were immediately briefed for their first mission, land navigation and recovery of supplies that included MRE's and the questions for their upcoming board exam.
Throughout the week, Soldiers and Marines worked side-by-side competing and challenging each other through an array of tactical and technical skilled events while building camaraderie amongst each other in a joint environment.
"It's been incredible working with the Marine Corps," said Marine Capt. Brandon Buckley, Operations Officer in Charge, 175th Financial Management Support Unit (FMSU). "We work with the Army all the time and to be in the thick with the Marine Corps, seeing how they operate; that was a great and wonderful experience.
"This isn't my first time working in a joint environment, but it is my first time working directly with the Army specifically in our MOS related tasks," said Marine Sgt. Matthew Rodrigues, Dispersing Technician, Regional Disbursement Office (RDO) based in Okinawa, Japan. "It's pretty interesting to see how we all wake up, put on different uniforms, but at the end of the day we accomplish the same mission."
Paymasters are the military's link to finances, including budgets, bills, contract payments and Soldier pay. It's important that Paymasters stay tactically and technically proficient as all MOS's should. Knowing where the next battle maybe or what the environment may present, Paymasters need to remain physically fit, mentally strong and able to perform at the highest level of competency.
"I'd like to congratulate them all for doing an outstanding job," said Army Sgt. Maj. Mike Lawson, 175th FMSC. "They all worked hard, not just this week but preparing up to this point. They did an outstanding job. All the teams worked together, so I'm really proud of them."
The team assigned to the 176th FMSU, Camp Humphreys, South Korea took home first place in the challenge. Second place team winners are from 175th FMSC, 8th TSC, Fort Shafter Hawaii; followed by 125th FMSC, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; and Regional Disbursement Office (RDO), Okinawa, Japan.