Lt. Col. Chuck Hutson receives Bronze Star medal
By Maj. Jeffrey D. Brown, 174th Attack Wing
/ Published October 12, 2013
Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York -- On September 7, 2013, Lt. Col. Charles H. Hutson, Commander of the 174th Attack Wing Comptroller Flight, received the Bronze Star Medal during a ceremony held at Hancock Field as family and Hancock Field unit members looked on.
"It was an honor to serve my country in Afghanistan, but it's good to be back home with my family", said Hutson during the ceremony. He recently returned from a six month deployment to Kabul, where he served as the Chief of Fiscal Policy, Force Reintegration Cell, Headquarters, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
While deployed, Hutson played a critical role in the international community's effort to reduce the insurgency and enhance regional and community stability by advising and assisting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in administering the Peace and Reintegration Program.
He worked directly with senior Afghan government officials to administer a $176 million financial assistance fund, enabling the internationally-funded campaign to weaken insurgent networks through the peaceful removal of over 900 insurgent fighters from the battlefield during his tenure.
"It was definitely a unique experience working with the Afghans. You had to learn not only some language and customs, but also their culture's unique set of socio-economic values." reflected Hutson.
At least twice a week, Hutson would leave the heavily defended "Green Zone" where he worked in an armored caravan to meet with Afghan government officials and regional commands.
Due to the sensitive nature of these assignments, he dressed in civilian clothes but would put on body armor while traveling. His over 80 "outside-the-wire" missions included multiple senior-level guardian angel and cash disbursement missions, over routes and in the vicinity of common insurgent threats and attacks, including attacks occurring during his period of deployed service.
Lt. Col. Hutson was the first deployed finance officer to develop a multi-lateral financial improvement team, which included the United Nations Development Program, the International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan's High Peace Council, several Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's Ministries, and diplomats from multiple donor nations, to make sure international funds were getting where they were most needed.
As part of this coordinated effort, he convinced the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense to allow regintegration program funds to be used for classical demining and legacy improvised explosive device abatement, coupled with community recovery focus and Afghan vocational training and employment. Furthermore, he did so by way of streamlined Department of State procurement methodologies and existing business relationships--an unprecedented execution strategy.
During his deployment, Hutson filled the role of Force Reintegration Cell Programs Branch Chief, a one-star general equivalent, for a period of six weeks during which his branch thrived delivering unprecedented resources and guidance to the regional commands. His fiscal leadership not only contributed to decreasing the number of insurgent fighters on the battlefield, but more importantly, strengthened the foundation of an enduring sovereign program advancing durable peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
When asked about personal safety concerns during his frequent trips "outside the wire" during his deployment, Lt. Col. Hutson responded "You didn't think very much about your own safety. Instead, you focused on the importance of your job in stabilizing the country and setting conditions favorable for handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan National Army and Afghan Local Police. I'm quite proud of the small part I played in that effort."
The Bronze Star Medal, authorized by Presidential Executive Order No. 9419 on February 4, 1944, is awarded to a person in any branch of the military service who, while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States on or after December 7, 1941, distinguishes himself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.