The Army Certificate of Achievement

The Army Certificate of Achievement is a great tool for recognizing basic soldier accomplishments.  If you are a small unit leader, you should implement this recognition tool as one of your leadership tools.  You can create your own squad level, platoon level, company level or battalion level Certificate of Achievement for your unit.

I’ve found the best thing to do is have one of your artistic soldiers draw up a logo for your unit.  This image can be your unit mascot and can also appear on your Certificate of Achievement.  As the Officer you and your NCO can sign the COA to recognize your soldiers.

Another option is to talk with your boss and have the soldier recognized by your boss.  For example, if you are a Company Commander, you can recommend one of your soldiers for a Certificate of Achievement from your Battalion Commander.  The major benefit of doing this is that a Certificate of Achievement is worth promotion points when it is signed by a LTC or higher.  Company and platoon level COAs are not worth any promotion points, but are still good recognition tools.

army coa

The Army Certificate of Achievement

Tips for Success

1. Don’t Overdo It: One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a leader is to hand these things out like hot cakes.  I recommend you try and issue no more than 1-2 COAs per drill weekend, with one being ideal.  If you hand out too many COAs, they will lose their appeal and value.

2. Be Open Minded: Soldiers do great things all the time.  As a leader, it’s your job to notice.  You can award a COA for any types of activities such as a significant improvement on the APFT or weapons qualification, a soldier staying late to repair a vehicle, a soldier teaches a class to his peers or anything else.  When possible, use the COA to recognize smaller achievements and the Army Achievement Medal or Army Commendation Medal to recognize bigger achievements.

3. Praise in Public: Whenever possible, try to present the Army Certificate of Achievement to your soldiers in formation, and in front of their peers.  Praise people in public whenever possible.  This will make the soldier feel good and will also have a larger impact on morale in your unit.  Hopefully, other soldiers will want to improve their performance so they can get recognized, too.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the Army Certificate of Achievement is a powerful leadership tool that any small unit leader can use.  Whether you are a Squad Leader or a Battalion Commander, you can create your own COA for your section or unit, and use it to recognize soldiers when they do a good job.  Best of all, it’s quick, easy to do, and works extremely well.

What are your experiences with the Army Certificate of Achievement? As a commander, do you use this tool? Does your commander? Please post any comments or questions below. Thank you for visiting.

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5 thoughts on “The Army Certificate of Achievement”

  1. I like the concept of having one of your more artistic soldiers draw a logo – it’s cool to have something like that to serve as a mark of yourselves, and can represent exactly what you stand for. COA’s seem very beneficial as motivators, and since any leader can implement them, why not recognize the achievements of your soldiers?

  2. While I understand that it’s a good thing to be open minded about what would be worth an achievement, I think the most important thing is to not hand this award out like it’s going out of style. I think one of the worst things we have done for children in sporting events and other competitive sports is to give out trophies and medals to everyone who participates. By rewarding behavior and achievements that aren’t exactly worth recognition, we have made a culture where underachieving is rewarded.

    1. The COA is one of the simplest and easiest awards to present to soldiers. Anyone can make up a COA for people in their section. However, I recommend getting a LTC or higher to sign off on it so it is worth some promotion points for the soldier receiving it.

      Chuck

  3. One of my friends received an Army Certificate of Achievements for his recruitment efforts. Thanks for explaining the difference between the Army Achievement Medal and Army Commendation Medal, as I’ve noticed those are dedicated to major achievements.

    1. The Army Certificate of Achievement is a underutilized tool. It’s a fast and easy way to recognize Soldiers. And if you can get a LTC or higher to sign it, the Soldier can even get promotion points for their ARMY COA. Talk about a win-win deal.

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