Analyst gets top honors for work in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Stephen Ross, a financial analyst with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, was recognized Monday for his year of civilian service downrange as lead audit advisor with the Afghan Public Protection Force.

The Air Force veteran, who voluntarily deployed from Sept. 2012 to Sept. 2013, was presented with an APPF Appreciation Certificate for his contribution to the government and people of Afghanistan; a medal from the Department of the Army for Superior Civilian Service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; a Non-Article Five North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal in relation to the International Security Assistance Force Operation; and the Secretary of Defense Global War on Terrorism medal.

Prior to his arrival at Robins in 2007, Ross worked for the Defense Information Systems Agency in Washington, D.C.

As he did while in the service, he wanted to continue his overseas support in some capacity, later learning about the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce program. Once approved for the CEW in 2012, he was notified of a job opening in Afghanistan, with a month's notice to prepare.

"This is an outstanding program," said Ross. "It takes our military brothers who have deployed multiple times and allows them to stay home. You take a civilian who is in the same career and (allow them to take the service member's place). Talk about directly supporting the warfighter."

He was an advisor to the Business and Finance Directorate, Afghan Public Protection Force Advisory Group, Deputy Commander-Police, and was instrumental as the lead advisor to the Afghan Public Protection Force Directors of the internal audit, accounting and budgetary sections. Notably, he assisted the APPF to obtain its first ever Capability Milestone One rating on the APPF Advisory Group Assessment.

Explaining that he always had a translator to assist in conducting business, it wasn't so much the language barrier that was challenging. Instead it was developing relationships and building trust. "I was an advisor to the deputy minister for the Ministry of Interior. It took me two months to earn his trust.

Developing those relationships is extremely difficult," he said. "We started them from the cradle, bringing them up to a $50 million-per-year enterprise providing security within and around Afghanistan."

Brig. Gen. Cedric George, WR-ALC commander, commended Ross for his commitment to his country. "He volunteered to go 7,500 miles away from us here in Middle Georgia," said George. "I'm proud of him, and look forward to what he'll bring this great Air Force as he continues his service."

Ross, who said he was among the first from Robins to deploy in the CEW program, has been back almost five months. He indicated he would like to return to continue his experiences in an advisory role.