BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Largely unknown by military personnel outside Germany, Britain, the Department of Defense’s banking system is expanding into Italy.

The Overseas Military Banking Program will add six locations in Italy during 2006, Patrick T. Shine, director of military and civilian pay services at the Defense Financial and Accounting Services, said in a telephone interview from his office in Arlington, Va.

Community Bank branches are planned for:

Navy sites — Naples, Sigonella, La Maddalena and Sardinia. Naval Support Activity Naples is home to about 6,500 sailors, their families and civilian employees at three major facilities. About 7,000 military and civilian personnel are based at Naval Air Station Sigonella, on the Italian island of Sicily. About 2,700 Americans are attached to the Naval Support Operation at La Maddalena.Army sites — Caserma Ederle, Vicenza; Camp Darby, Livorno. About 8,000 soldiers are based at Caserma Ederle, 25 miles west of Venice, and hundreds more soldiers and airmen are at Camp Darby, near Pisa.Air Force sites — Aviano Air Base, Aviano. About 7,000 Americans are based at Aviano, north of Venice, which is home base to the 31st Fighter Wing.Tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and civilians bank at a total of 100 branches in Germany, Japan or Britain.

DFAS does not select sites for new banks, Shine said. Officials at facilities without Community Banks must request the service and prove there is sufficient potential demand to warrant the expenditure, he said.

Community Bank — government owned, contractor operated — is not a conventional bank offering myriad services a la private banks in the United States competing for market share, he said. Rather, it provides basic U.S.-style banking — checking accounts, savings accounts — for American military personnel living overseas, he said.

Banking service fees don’t go as “profits” to Community Bank or to the civilian bank that runs it, but rather help defray operating expenses.

DFAS oversees the bank, which is operated by San Francisco-based financial services giant Bank of America on a five year, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract.

One of the largest pieces of Community Bank’s business is currency exchange.

During 2004, DFAS’ internal treasury bought about $9 billion worth of currency on world markets, averaging about $34 million per day, according to information provided by Bryan Hubbard, deputy director of corporate communications for DFAS.

Finance operations under DFAS provided funds to base disbursing offices in European Union countries for local-national payroll, vendor payments, currency exchange, as well as to credit unions and European Community Bank operations.

The Army pays 65 percent of the approximately $4.8 million fee Bank of America gets each month to provide banking services, while the Navy pays 15 percent and the Air Force 20 percent, Shine said.

The half-dozen sailors in Naples asked about the arrival of the facilities furrowed their brows, saying they’d not heard of the bank before.

Some added that with Navy Federal Credit Unions sites and existing places to exchange dollars for euros, new banking facilities aren’t necessarily needed.

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