The theme of this year's American Society of Military Comptrollers Professional Development Institute (PDI) was "Mission Focused." This theme brings added meaning today, as competition with China and Russia and provocations by Iran bring an increased threat of war.
With today's current events and an increasingly fragile diplomatic world environment, the Finance and Comptroller Actions & Lessons Learned in WWII Strategic Initiatives Group seminar made perfect sense. This seminar was led by COL Nicholas LaSala, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management & Comptroller), who brought significant research together to inform this discussion about what could happen if we lost air, cyber, and sea superiority in a peer on peer war. There are three distinct challenges United States military financial managers could face in a full-scale high intensity conflict: first, how would we operate with no connectivity?; second, how would we handle financial operations during high intensity warfare?; and finally, how would we get war-time data back into our auditable financial systems? Below is an examination of these challenges which may be an issue in the future.
Financial management without connectivity
Even complex financial management systems are relatively easy in a battle space where we control our environment. However, what happens when we do not have dominance in every domain? Will we have to conduct financial operations with no internet connectivity and be forced back to an old school way of doing business? The United States has enjoyed control of all domains for decades, and going back to manual systems could be very difficult. It is not a far stretch to envision China and Russia blocking our satellite and cellular communications during a full-scale war. This would kill the connectivity we have come to expect during conflict. This could force us to return to paper or offline computer systems. Today we rely on connectivity to do things we take for granted. Losing connectivity will require a new way of doing business in a high intensity warfare environment. Achieving auditability in a fully connected, real-time environment is challenging enough; however, maintaining accounting and logistics systems spread among many echelons and types of units across the Joint Operations Area (JOA) would be extremely challenging.
Financial Operations during high intensity warfare
We must plan for and be prepared to conduct financial support...