FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- The Noncommissioned Officer Academy-Hawaii at Schofield Barracks and the United States Army, Alaska NCO Academy, Fort Richardson, Alaska, have recently been accredited as an Institution of Excellence by the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, the highest level of accreditation in the U.S. Army.

USASMA and the Training and Doctrine Command accredit NCO academies every three years to ensure Soldiers are receiving the best training possible. Currently only four of the 28 NCO Academies in the United States Army are accredited as an Institution of Excellence. The other two NCO Academies with this distinction are at Fort Lewis, Wash. and Fort Campbell, Ky.

More than 1,600 Soldiers enroll in the NCOA-Hawaii yearly. Not only do U.S. Soldiers go through the course, about 50 foreign Soldiers from six different countries also attend this academy.

According to Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Thomas, commandant of the NCOA-Hawaii, USASMA inspects 16 different areas during the accreditation process, and earning a perfect score in all areas isn't enough to be recognized as an Institute of Excellence.

"You must get 100 percent in every area without one gig," he said. "A lot of academies get 100 percent, but as soon as you get one comment, you're out of the running.

"It's not so much our paperwork is straight and we have our act together as far as our (Standard Operation Procedures) and the way we do business at the Academy," Thomas added. "To me, it's the extra things that we do at this academy that no other academy in the United States Army does. That's why NCOA-Hawaii deserves this recognition."

For example, Thomas said the NCOA-Hawaii is the only academy that has an overweight program as a part of the Warrior Leader Course. According to the Army, if a Soldier fails the body fat test twice, he/she will "Marginally Achieve the Course Standard."

"We took a proactive approach," Thomas said. "When they come in and don't meet Army Height and Weight standards, we give them a class on nutrition, we put them on a special high-protein, low-fat diet in the dining facility, we give them extra (physical training), we assign them a battle buddy who monitors everything they eat and then we counsel them."

During the last year, 152 Soldiers have been put on the program, the average are 4-8 percent over their body fat. Under this program, 99 percent of the Soldiers went on to meet the Army standard by the end of the cycle.

This is just one of the many extra things the NCOA-Hawaii does for the Soldiers who attend courses there.

But along with the proactive approach, comes instructors who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure the best training for Soldiers. According to 1st Sgt. Troy Baylis, first sergeant, NCOA-Hawaii, the cadre expected to do well during the accreditation process.

"These instructors do a lot of training, so they're not nervous when they're being evaluated," he said. "They've received top-quality training and would have been very disappointed if they didn't receive this distinction. We're only 44 deep, so everybody knows what's expected of them."

Staff Sgt. Edward Bower, senior small group leader and escort of the accreditation team, said that this award exemplifies what everyone does at the NCO Academy.

"A few people might have stepped up and did quality assurance, but every member of the cadre got checked on something," he said. "This is a great team and everybody works together. We weren't given this award; the academy went out and earned it."

P1010008 - Warrior Leader Course students patrol the area during the field portion of the course. The Non Commissioned Officer Academy, Hawaii was accredited an Institution of Excellence by U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas Aug. 26. The academy here is one of three academies army wide to receive this recognition this year.