The Army Certificate of Achievement (COA) is a great tool for recognizing basic Soldier accomplishments. If you are a small unit leader, you should leverage this recognition tool to improve morale and performance.
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 or NCO in charge, you can sign the COA to recognize your Soldiers.
Another option is to talk with your supervisor and have the Soldier recognized by them. 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 Certificate of Achievement Success Tips
Here are some basic tips for small unit leaders when it comes to writing the Army Certificate of Achievement for their subordinates.
1. Don’t Overdo It
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a leader is to hand these things out like candy at Halloween. I recommend you try and issue no more than one or two 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 a wide variety of activities, such as a significant improvement on the APFT or weapons qualification, a Soldier staying late to repair a vehicle, a Soldier mentoring or helping one of his peers, or anything else.
When possible, use the COA to recognize smaller achievements and utilize 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.
If by chance your unit has a website or social media page, that is a great place to publicly praise your Soldiers as well.
Example COA Citations
Here are a few example Certificate of Achievement citations, just to get you thinking. Feel free to use these as a template.
# 1: For outstanding achievement during the recent MAIT Inspection. SPC Jones’ hard work and commitment to excellence helped the unit receive a passing score. He spent two weeks on ADOS, working long 12-hour days to help the unit prepare. This reflects great credit upon himself, the 43rd Maintenance Company, the 67th Maintenance Battalion, and the U.S. Army.
# 2: For outstanding achievement during the unit’s most recent Army Physical Fitness Test. Sergeant Smith scored a perfect 300, the highest score in the company. His performance inspired several other Soldiers to work hard, develop a plan, and improve their own APFT score. This helped improve morale and esprit de corps within the company. This reflects great credit upon himself, the Distribution Platoon, the 42nd Forward Support Company, and the U.S. Army.
# 3: For outstanding achievement during the recent change of command inventory. PFC Wilson volunteered to work four days at the unit to assist with the inventory. He laid out inventory, inspected items, verified paperwork, and assisted the Supply Sergeant and Company Commander as needed. His hard work resulted in a speedy and accurate inventory. This reflects great credit upon himself, the 23rd Signal Company, the 58th Signal Battalion, and the United States Army.
And here’s one, from my friends over at ArmyWriter.com.
Exceptionally meritorious achievements while serving as a Truck Driver for the Combined Brigade Response Team during the State Active Duty Mission of 29 December 2015 to 31 December 2015. Staff Sergeant Thompson’s dedication to duty, professionalism, and commitment to excellence contributed immensely to the unit’s success and mission accomplishment. His actions and occupational proficiency reflect greatly upon himself, his unit, the 700 BSB, and the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
Disclaimer: All units and names are fictional to protect the person’s privacy.
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.
Remember, one of the greatest human needs is the need to be appreciated. The Army COA is a great way to make your Soldiers feel appreciated. Use it whenever possible.
What are your experiences with the Army Certificate of Achievement? As a supervisor, do you use this tool? Does your commander? Please post any comments or questions below. Thank you for visiting.