The 108th Training Command (IET) took top honors for the U.S. Army Reserve at the 2014 Army Communities of Excellence (ACOE) awards.

The ACOE is a joint program between the Army Reserve and Army National Guard that evaluates and assesses senior leaders and their commands on their organizational management practices.

Each year, a team of examiners from the ACOE program looks at a fifty-page assessment developed by the evaluated units based on the competitions 7 categories. The categories range from training readiness to customer focus. Overall winners and runners-up are then selected in both the Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

The program has been in existence for 19 years and supports readiness by allowing each organization to document their effectiveness in each of the seven categories they are judged on. This year, five different Army Reserve commands participated in addition to 41 of the 54 eligible National Guard commands.

Wanda Thurman, Business Transformation Division chief, Army National Guard Bureau, has been the program manager for 14 years and says the message of ACOE is to leave the Army better than we found it.

"Being one community with a common goal and common purpose is what we're after. We have to ensure we have built capabilities and learning practices throughout the total team."

This is the third year the 108th Training Command (IET) has participated in the program.

After being named runner up each of the past two years, Col. Donald Nalls, assistant commander for Strategic Initiatives, 108th Training Command (IET), says, "It's nice to win but more important than winning is the chance to look at the unit's evaluation process to ensure we're ready."

"The ACOE allows us to look at our systems and processes which in turn helps us as we work towards the overall goal of being the U.S. Army Reserve's premiere training unit."

Brig. Gen. A. Ray Royalty, deputy commanding general, 108th Training Command (IET), added the ACOE pushes the command to work on its communication.

"In my mind this all about communications. Communications up and down, as well as left and right. This is all about allowing us to see where we're at and where we need to allocate our resources in order to improve as a unit."

Royalty said a team of 25 officers and noncommissioned officers from across the command worked year round and one improvement over the past couple of years is the involvement of each of the command's three training divisions.

"This year we had one representative from each of the division's on the team. Going forward, we'll probably look at adding more representation from those divisions. Having them involved worked out well for us this year and helps with the communication process going forward."

The 81st Regional Support Command took runner-up for the Army Reserve while the Army National Guard's overall winner was the West Virginia National Guard.

Nalls added, "Its pretty simple, a great armored cavalry general named Bruce Clark said 'soldiers do best in what the boss checks' and that wisdom is what the ACOE boils down to."