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Combined Logistics Excellence Awards: What It Takes to Win

Is your unit or agency trying to decide if it should enter the 2009 Chief of Staff of the Army’s Combined Logistics Excellence Awards (CLEA) competition? The awards recognize organizational achievement in the areas of deployment, maintenance, and supply operations for all components—Active Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve. The CLEA competition shines the spotlight on logisticians and recognizes the critical role they play in supporting the warfighter.

Entering the 2009 CLEA competition is an excellent training opportunity for the personnel of your unit or agency. It will also have a positive effect on the overall combat readiness of your organization. Competing for a CLEA might just be one of the best investments of time and effort your agency or unit makes all year. When a team of blue ribbon panel experts declares your work to be among the “best of the best” of the Army’s logistics activities, that honor will speak volumes about your organization’s expertise, professionalism, dedication to duty, and contributions to Army success.

Is competing for CLEA challenging? Absolutely. Is winning an award achievable? You bet.

But what does it take to win an award? What distinguishes the best organizations in deployment, maintenance, and supply? The experiences of winning units can offer your organization some guidance as it ponders entering the competition. Here are some “best practice” tips provided by the winning and runner-up units of the 2008 competition. These high-performing organizations attribute their success in the CLEA competition to focusing on these practices. [A complete list of winners of the 2008 awards in ALOG News.]


1. Understand the deployment process. Key leaders and operators in the unit must understand the process and its impact on the unit and the importance of reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (RSO&I). Conduct deployment exercises that take leaders and operators through the installation deployment process, and develop an RSO&I plan.
2. Plan for deployment. Deployments are based on operational requirements and should be inextricably linked to how the unit will be employed.
3. Develop a set of procedures for deployment. Invest time in developing and updating deployment standing operating procedures (SOPs).
4. Maintain equipment. Equipment readiness is crucial, particularly for short-notice deployments.
5. Maintain Soldiers. Ensure that Soldier readiness processing is scheduled regularly. Pay special attention to medical and dental readiness.
6. Maintain data. Unit movement officers should update organizational equipment data regularly. They should ensure that military shipping labels and radio frequency identification tags are correct and properly affixed to vehicles and containers.
7. Coordinate with deployment support. Nurture a close relationship with the installation staff, the unit movement coordinator in particular. Leverage the skills and knowledge of the mobility officer and the mobility support element.
8. Train deployment skills. Treat individual and team deployment skills as critical elements of the unit’s overall skill set and readiness standard. Integrate deployment training into other collective training. Develop a unit deployment list for all training activities, validate load plans, and process them through the installation staging activity.
9. Prepare for change. Missions, personnel, and schedules change. Build in redundancy in deployment skills.
10. Ensure command involvement. Command emphasis and presence pay dividends during deployment and training operations.


1. Ensure that Army Materiel Status System readiness reports and all other phase I submission data are accurate and are verified during phase II.
2. Verify that all equipment is mission capable. Report all not-mission-capable equipment properly during phase II evaluation.
3. Initiate innovative procedures that improve existing systems.
4. Ensure that SOPs are well written and—very importantly—are followed.
5. Establish and maintain excellent quality control and safety programs.
6. Ensure that all modification table of organization and equipment or table of distribution and allowances shortages are justified or replacements are on order. Properly dispose of excesses.
7. Verify that prescribed load list, shop stock, and bench stock items and all pertinent regulations and publications are on order or on request.
8. Establish a unit-level approach to maintenance. Everyone must be involved. Command involvement and emphasis are mandatory.
9. Maintain excellent maintenance and training records.
10. Perform scheduled maintenance the entire year, not just in preparation for the maintenance awards evaluation.


1. Ensure that SOPs are properly established, well formulated, and enforced by all levels of command.
2. Establish and maintain the Command Supply Discipline Program (CSDP). Appoint senior logisticians as CSDP monitors. Deliberately formulate checklists. Complete inspections at the required frequency, and conduct followups to correct deficiencies.
3. Property book officers should take a “whole view” approach to accountability in managing each aspect of their property books. Train and develop subordinate managers and give them proper guidance and follow-up.
4. Post all documents that support changes to the property book in a timely manner. Properly file documents for quick reference.
5. Ensure that the latest supply catalogs and technical manuals are in use at the unit. Review the Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA) webpage at www.logsa.army.mil to verify that the unit possesses the latest references.
6. Make sure that clothing records are complete and properly maintained and contain all required documents.
7. Complete required periodic, cyclic, and annual inventories. Manage sensitive items, arms, and ammunition inventories in accordance with all applicable regulations.
8. Supply support activities (SSAs) should properly transfer the stock record accounts from the losing stock records officers (SROs) to the gaining SROs and maintain the proper supporting documentation. Appoint the gaining SROs properly.
9. All SSAs must meet or exceed established Department of the Army goals for location surveys, inventory accuracy, inventory adjustments, denial rates, request and receipt processing, and zero balance rates.
10. Establish a continuity of operations plan (COOP). SSAs must have a COOP in place that is tested annually and is modified and updated as required.

These steps have been demonstrated in each category by successful CLEA competitors and have proven to be effective in achieving the desired goal of winning an award. Study and put them into practice, and at the 2009 CLEA ceremony your unit or agency may be honored. Good luck.

Army Logistician thanks Willie Miller-Walker of the Army Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Virginia; Henry H. Johnson of the Deployment Process Modernization Office at Fort Eustis, Virginia; Chief Warrant Officer (CW–4) David F. Gorman of the Army Quartermaster Center and School at Fort Lee; and Michael E. Burch of the Army Ordnance Center and School at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, for their contributions to this article.