Culpeper native helps to provide transparency, accountability in Afghanistan’s rebuilding efforts

 

Culpeper resident Rhonda Dinkins has spent decades serving her country as a federal employee. Courtesy photo
Culpeper resident Rhonda Dinkins has spent decades serving her country as a federal employee.
Courtesy photo

By Chris Hanson

Special to the Culpeper Times

KABUL, Afghanistan – Not all patriots serve in the military.  Rhonda Dinkins of Culpeper has dedicated 34 years of her life to serve her country as a federal employee.  Employed by the Defense Contract Management Agency in Ft. Lee, she temporarily fills the role as the external audit manager for the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan based here at Resolute Support.  She is the command’s main contact for follow-up for all audit related questions.

Coming to Afghanistan was Dinkins’ choice.  When the opportunity arose, she didn’t hesitate and volunteered with the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce program for her second deployment to the country.  There was a dire need for her skillset through CEW, so she stepped forward for the position.  She’s glad she did.

“Working for CSTC-A has enabled me to work outside of my normal budget analyst duties back home. Being a part of this mission, where you can actually see changes being made, is pretty amazing,” said Dinkins.

Dinkins was influenced at the age of 16 to pursue working in federal service.  Her aunt encouraged her to take a job as a summer employee working for the President’s Commission for a National Agenda for the Eighties, an initiative started during President Carter’s administration.  She also watched and learned from her mother, who provided a strong foundation for who she is today.

“I watched her go to work each day and still care for our family. I give credit to her for my faith, confidence and independence. It’s what I’ve tried to instill in my own children,” Dinkins said.

Maj. Gen. Richard G. Kaiser, Deputy Chief of Staff for Security Assistance/Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan commanding general stressed the importance of civilian employees to the mission.

“Without our civilian workforce, our mission here in Afghanistan would be less effective, less credible, and quite frankly, almost impossible to accomplish,” Kaiser said.  “Why? Because our civilians provide us very focused expertise in areas that are outside of the direct military sphere, yet are essential for a whole of government and system of systems approach.  Rhonda is a tremendous team-mate and I am proud to serve with and alongside her!”

Part of CSTC-A’s mission is to provide transparency and oversight for U.S. money spent in Afghanistan.  These expenditures are audited on a regular basis to ensure they are spent effectively and on the right items needed for Afghanistan. Dinkins’ role is to provide support to and answer the questions of CSTC-A’s various auditors.

Col. Jason Crowe is the Chief-of-Staff for the command and Dinkins’ direct supervisor.

“Rhonda is the central point of contact to integrate all the congressional oversight efforts with CSTC-A’s management of over $3.5 billion in taxpayer-provided Afghan Security Forces Funds. At any given time, she is monitoring a dozen audits at various stages of execution,” Crowe said.  “As her supervisor, I work with her closely and she amazes me daily with her dedication and ability to ‘get the job done’ accurately and rapidly in response to short notice audits.”

Although stationed in a combat zone, Dinkins enjoys her time in country. “While Afghanistan can sometimes be a scary place to live and is very far from home I still feel these deployments have helped me to grow as an individual,” she said. “I have met so many people from around the world here at camp RS that have impacted my life in so many positive ways.  Being here in Afghanistan makes me truly realize how very thankful and blessed I really am.”

Still, she looks forward to returning home when the time comes.  “I love spending time with my family.  I truly miss not having dinner each night with my husband and I miss my daughter and all of our talks, my son, godson and grandchildren,” Dinkins said.  “I can’t wait to have a weekend off to spend with them.”

NATO’s Resolute Support Mission is a key component to the international community’s engagement in Afghanistan, assisting Afghan authorities in providing security and stability, while creating the conditions for reconstruction and development.

Deputy Chief of Staff Security Assistance/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan ‪trains‬, ‪advises‬, and ‪assists‬ the Afghan National Defense Security Forces to improve their capability, accountability and transparency, with additional goals of curbing corruption and enabling the ANDSF to sufficiently provide security to the people of Afghanistan.  NATO’s Resolute Support Mission is a key component to the international community’s engagement in Afghanistan, assisting Afghan authorities in providing security and stability, while creating the conditions for reconstruction and development.

Lt. Chris Hanson is the Director of Public Affairs at NATO’s Resolute Support Mission. You may contact him at chris.r.hanson@afghan.swa.army.mil