News: Hawaii guardsmen earn national recognition
Story by Staff Sgt. Christopher Martens
KAPOLEI, Hawaii - For most Soldiers, it is not necessary to know, or even understand how they receive the basic items and equipment needed to perform everyday duties. Uniforms, individual equipment, even paper; to most Soldiers, these items are just the basic tools needed to accomplish the mission. However, to the Soldiers of the United States Property and Fiscal Office-Hawaii (USPFO-HI) Central issuing Facility (CIF) and Warehouse, these items are the mission. These two sections work tirelessly to ensure the Soldiers of the Hawaii Army National Guard get what they need to get the job done. Every year though, in doing their jobs, the CIF and Warehouse get the opportunity to compete for the Army Chief of Staff’s Supply Excellence Award. In this year’s competition, in their respective categories, the CIF placed first, and the warehouse second amongst all 54 states and territories.
The Supply Excellence Award (SEA) program was developed in 1986 to recognize supply excellence at the various unit and organizational levels. Competing units are required to submit bulky continuity binders consisting of current standard operating procedures, regulatory and inspection reports, surveys, and other miscellaneous reports. Packets are submitted to a regional representative and entered into the first phase of the competition. All regional entries are evaluated, and only the top two scoring 80 percent or better from each region are entered into the national competition. Once national finalists are nominated, an evaluation team travels to each nominated unit location for an in-depth on-site evaluation. Once the evaluations are completed, a national winner is selected.
The advantages of competing for the SEA go beyond bragging rights. According to USPFO-HI Supply Management Officer, Lt. Col. Cesar Pudiquet, “This competition gives us another look at our preparedness and readiness.” Pudiquet also credits the competition as a way to take advantage of “best practices” from all over the country. “It’s a way for us to take advantage of what’s out there, and to find what has worked for others.” Property Management Supervisor Chief Warrant Officer Rolando Domingo also recognizes additional benefits to this competition. “The effort put into the competition helps [the CIF and Warehouse] prepare for their IG inspection.”
The competition is a long process that requires a lot effort and commitment. Competing units submit their packets in July, but typically are not notified if they have moved on to the national level until January. Once notification is received, units only have one to two months to prepare for the on-site evaluation. According to Pudiquet, participation in this competition is as hard as it sounds. “This is an additional duty. This is all about Soldiers putting in the work,” said Pudiquet describing the effort put forth by the Soldiers in the CIF and warehouse in addition to the daily demands of their jobs.
For Master Sgt. Carol Cabanlet, the hard work has paid off. Cabanlet, the CIF Manager and Property Book Officer, has worked at the CIF since 2002. She has competed for the Supply Excellence Award every year since 2008, and was National runner-up in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012. 2014 is the first year her team, consisting of Master Sgt. Emilie Bagayas and herself, has been first in the Nation. “It’s all about pride and honor,” said Cabanlet. “It’s about showing all the hard work we do here.”
Cabanlet believes the hard work they put into the day to day operations at the CIF pays when it is time to prepare for the SEA competition, but even being proactive is not enough.
“I’m the type that it has to be perfect, and that takes a lot of preparation,” stated Cabanlet as she described how she and Bagayas worked from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week for a month straight in preparation for their evaluation. Even now, being number one in the nation, Cabanlet is not backing down. “Once you’ve won, they look at you even harder the next year.”
For the Soldiers assigned to the USPFO-HI warehouse, finishing as this year’s runner-up in their category is bittersweet. Even for a team who has won first place in the nation several times, finishing second amongst all 54 states and territories is no easy accomplishment. The warehouse team, led by 1st Sgt. Roland Ladera has made being the best a consistent goal. For Sgt. Noelle Kawello, hearing they had placed second was somewhat disappointing at first. “I was kind of bummed.” However, after considering the entire situation, Kawello quickly changed her mind. “We had a lot that coincided with the competition this year.” In January 2014, the warehouse began a migration over to a new logistics information system. This implementation required a large amount of time, and unfortunately left the warehouse team unable to commit as much time to the SEA competition this year. With the knowledge that even with large detractors like the information system migration, they were still able to perform better than 52 states and territories, the warehouse team is looking forward to the next competition.
Domingo is not surprised by the performance of his CIF and Warehouse teams in this years SEA competition. Having been working at the USPFO since 1995, he has come to expect this type of commitment and performance from both sections. Speaking about Cabanlet, “She is so dedicated to the Soldiers. She is personally invested in the CIF.” Domingo believes the dedication seen in Cabanlet is a characteristic found in all the Soldiers working in the CIF and Warehouse sections. “This competition is not about showing how well they do their job; it’s about showing how much better they do their jobs than those in other states.”
Like Domingo, Pudiquet is not surprised by this year’s performance in the SEA competition. “We believe we are one of the best warehouse and CIF sections in the country. This competition is another way to validate that.”
When asked how the USPFO leadership feels about how the CIF and Warehouse placed this year, Pudiquet responded, “We are very pleased, but the outcome speaks for itself. You don’t win consistently, or come in second by accident. They [the Soldiers] have a lot of passion for what they do.”
Cabanlet and other representatives of the USPFO will travel to Washington DC in September where the US Army G4 will present them with the Supply Excellence Award. However, that is in September, and for now, the Soldiers of the USPFO-HI CIF and Warehouse remain dedicated to their mission, focused on their jobs, and of course busy preparing their entry into next years Supply Excellence award competition, due later this month.