Tip # 1: Create a Shell Before Annual Training
One of the best things you can do is create a shell award before Annual Training. Use a shell for AAMs and ARCOMs so when you go to write the award, you have a good starting point. This will save a lot of time. You can find some example Annual Training Awards online, so you don’t have to recreate the wheel.
Tip # 2: Prepare One or Two Awards for Things Done During AT Prep
There are lots of great things that get done prior to Annual Training, especially by your AGR Staff. Why not write up 1-2 awards for things that your good Soldiers do during AT Prep? This will put you ahead of the power curve and make life easier for the S1 Section.
Tip # 3: Find Out What Your Senior Commander Expects
Another simple tip is to find out what your senior commander wants. For example, if you are a Company Commander, just ask your boss what their expectations are about awards for Annual Training. They will tell you. And if you are a Platoon Leader, ask your Company Commander what their policy is. By all means, you can exceed their policy, but at least know the minimum requirement.
Tip # 4: Don’t Hand out Formal Awards Like Candy
I don’t believe in handing out AAMs and ARCOMs like candy. Yes, they are good to use, but there are also many other “informal” awards for Soldiers who do a good job, but don’t do anything exceptional. Consider tools such as unit coins, Certificates of Achievement or Appreciation, and anything else you can think of.
Tip # 5: Have Your Awards Finished by Day 7 of Annual Training
You have to be proactive. Don’t wait until the last day of Annual Training to hand all of your awards to the S1 Section and then expect them to get them processed in one day. As a rule of thumb, have at least 80% of your awards turned in by Day 7 and the remaining 20% turned in by Day 10. This advice assumes you have a 14 day Annual Training. This gives the S1 Section enough time to do their job.
Tip # 6: Empower Your Subordinates to Write the Awards
If you are a Company Commander, you do not and should not write ALL the awards yourself. By all means, you can personally write awards for your command team and direct reports. But don’t write the awards for your junior enlisted Soldiers. Empower the supervisor of each Soldier (Team Leaders) to write the first draft anyway. You can edit and finalize the awards, but make the lowest level leaders do the brunt of the work.
Tip # 7: Don’t Drop the Ball
My last tip is don’t drop the ball on Annual Training Awards. As a small unit leader, you have the responsibility to recognize your Soldiers for their achievements. Make sure that you are proactive and make sure that a good amount of your Soldiers are recognized, either with formal or informal awards. Most Soldiers will do at least one thing well during AT so make sure you find ways to recognize them. There is nothing more damaging to morale, especially during AT, than no one being recognized.
Annual Training Awards can be a pain in the butt, but as a small unit leader you need to make sure that you schedule the time to get the awards done. Be proactive, have a game plan and follow through. It doesn’t have to be difficult.
What are your thoughts about Annual Training Awards? Leave a comment and let us know.