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NEWS | Aug. 19, 2021

Army Reserve brigade clinches coveted supply excellence award

By Sgt. 1st Class Brent Powell 76th Operational Response Command

Each year army supply units around the world compete for top honors to be recognized as the best in their specific component and division.

This year, a hard-working team of Army Reserve Soldiers from the 455th Chemical Brigade, 76th Operational Response Command, clinched top honors in their organizational level of competition, ultimately receiving the U.S. Army Reserve Command Chief of Staff, Supply Excellence Award.

"This is a huge accomplishment for our whole team and the whole unit," said Girlie O'Brien, logistics management specialist, 455th Chemical Brigade. "Our whole intent for competing was to get feedback and recommendations from the division and the U.S. Army Reserve Command to enhance our readiness and supply effectiveness, to see what our best practices are, and to find out what we can improve on."

The Supply Excellence Award (SEA) Program was conceived during the Total Army Worldwide Supply Conference held in November 1984. The Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (DCSLOG) tasked the U.S. Army Quartermaster School (USAQMS) to assist in the research and development of an award program, similar to the Phillip A. Connelly Award (Subsistence) and the Chief of Staff, Army, Maintenance Excellence Award Programs, to recognize supply excellence at the various unit and organizational levels.

"Receiving this award means that you are the best unit in the Army Reserve in your category, meeting or exceeding the U.S. Army Reserve Command's standards," said Chief Warrant Officer Sekou Gilchrist, division senior property accounting technician, 76th Operational Response Command. "In order to compete, units must maintain at least 80 to 90 percent readiness in the Command Supply Disciple Program. It's a big deal. This is the first step in competing at the Department of the Army level, which is the highest award a supply unit can receive."

According to O'Brien numerous hours were spent preparing for the competition and she pointed out a couple reasons those efforts were successful. "I think the keys to our success were teamwork and communication," she said. "We have a great working relationship here at the brigade. Everyone takes care of each other and we have each other's back. I feel really blessed to be a part of this team. We have a great teamwork dynamic."

During the competition, units are inspected on a variety of supply related items and they must submit an award packet that contains more than 1100 pages of detailed unit supply information.

"Units are judged on how their standard operating procedures (SOP) are written, how they train their supply Soldiers, innovation, their logistics posture, how they dispose of government property, Central Issue Facility (CIF) operations and all things supply related," said Gilchrist. "One of the biggest items units are judged on is having a good SOP and supply operations that match that SOP."

According to O'Brien, numerous hours coupled with a monumental team effort went into preparing for and submitting required documents for the competition.

"It's not just what goes on at the brigade level that we are judged on, but what our downtrace units are doing as well," she said. "We have 17 units including three battalions under our brigade and they all have to be following the same supply SOP. A lot of paperwork and hard work went into this effort, but it paid off and it was a learning experience for us as well."

Having a unit meet all the requirements for the award, submit a valid packet and be selected as the winner is something that Gilchrist says he hasn't seen very often in his career. In fact the division had six units compete for the award last year and none of them were selected.

"The last time I was part of an organization that won this award I was a staff sergeant back in the 90s, so it doesn't happen often," he said. "It feels good to have one of our brigades compete for and win this award," said Gilchrist. "I feel honored."

With the award now in the books, the Soldiers have their eyes on the next level of the competition, which will be the Department of the Army level scheduled for October.

"We are super excited to compete at the DA level," said O'Brien. "Our whole objective in competing was to get better and to learn best practices from the experts at the reserve and DA levels. Winning the competition at the DA level would be a great accomplishment for the whole brigade and our subordinate units as well. We are really looking forward to it."