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Quality Cadet Unit Award

Any cadet unit that displays strong program fundamentals can earn the Quality Cadet Unit Award. This award motivates squadrons to pursue goals that will inevitably lead to their having a vibrant Cadet Program. The award is purely objective. Cadet and composite squadrons who meet the challenging criteria below automatically earn the award. The award can serve as a helpful management tool. Local leaders can use its award criteria to gauge the relative health of their Cadet Program. Wing leaders can use the program data to identify squadrons that are flourishing, and perhaps use leaders of those outstanding units to mentor leaders in nearby units that did not earn the award.



All cadet and composite squadrons and flights with a minimum of 10 cadets are eligible and are automatically considered for the award. 


2017-2018 CRITERIA

Award winners are determined by their performance from 1 September 2017 through 31 August 2018. The award criteria are entirely objective.  Any unit that meets at least 6 of the 10 criteria listed below, as of 31 August 2018, qualifies:

  • Cadet Achievement:  40% of cadets on roster have attained the Wright Brothers Award

  • Orientation Flights:  70% of cadets on roster have participated in at least 1 flight

  • Retention: Unit retained 50% of first year cadets during previous year

  • Adult Leadership: Unit has at least 3 Training Leaders of Cadets graduates on its roster

  • Encampment: 50% of cadets on roster have completed encampment

  • Growth: Unit’s cadet roster increased by 10% or 10 cadets during previous year

  • Aerospace: Unit earned the Aerospace Excellence Award (AEX) during previous year or unit sent in an AAR after ordering a STEM Kit

  • Enrollment: Unit has at least 35 cadets listed on its roster

  • Outside Activities: Unit participated in CyberPatriotJROTC/CAP Academic Bowl, or hosted a Red Ribbon Leadership Academy       Adjusted for '18

  • Emergency Services: 60% of cadets on roster have GES certification


Pull the redesigned Quality Cadet Unit Report from Member Reports to see how your unit is doing. Please note that this is a tracking report and numbers change throughout the year.




1.  Each September, NHQ will examine every cadet and composite squadron’s performance in the criteria above, as reflected in eServices. Every cadet and composite squadron is automatically considered for the award – there is no application procedure necessary.

2.  Initial data is sent to all commanders for questions and corrections, as necessary.

3.  NHQ will announce the winning squadrons on this webpage. Award elements will be mailed to the respective wing headquarters, for presentation at a suitable venue.



Cadet and composite squadrons that qualify for the Quality Cadet Unit Award will receive the following:

1.  An award emblem for the unit’s website, letterhead, recruiting materials, and other publications.

2.  A certificate that will be presented by wing headquarters at an appropriate venue



1.    I think our unit should be credited for something that isn't appearing on the report.  How can I make sure we receive the credit?

The award and associated report pull the information directly from eServices.  Most likely you'll need to make sure the information has been entered into the associated module correctly.  Here's how the award elements are tracked:

  • Adult Leadership: TLC credit granted when the TLC director sends the CAPF11 of participants to

  • Aerospace Excellence Award: Credit granted through AEX module

  • STEM Kit:  Send in an after-action report on a STEM Kit.  Credit will be given for the year the kit is completed, regardless of when the kit was ordered.

  • Cadet Achievement: Cadet Promotions module

  • Encampment: Encampment commanders credit cadets with graduation credit in the Encampment Reporting module of eServices.

  • Enrollment, Growth & Retention:

  • Orientation Flights: WMIRS

  • CyberPatriot, JLAB & RRLA: Eservices reporting module under construction

  • GES:  CAPT 116 in the Learning Management System

If you cannot resolve the issue with one of the above links, email us at  

2.    How does the Quality Cadet Unit Award affect the Squadron of Merit Award program? 
The Squadron of Merit Award remains in effect, but only one squadron per wing wins that award each year. The SOM program allows the wing commander to make subjective judgments about which unit is the “best” in the wing, while the Quality Cadet Unit Award is purely objective. One would hope that the SOM winner would also be a QCUA winner, but that is not a pre-requisite.   

3.     My unit experienced a special circumstance this year (new charter, spun off a new squadron, merged with another squadron).  How can I make sure this is taken into consideration?

You’re right, the cold, impersonal eServices data can sometimes give an inaccurate view of what’s actually happening on the ground.  The guidelines for the award are meant to encourage squadrons to stretch and pursue goals they might not otherwise.  They are not meant to discourage recruiting, allowing transfers, nor promoting cadets before they're ready or anything similar.  Please contact to ensure that the data is interpreted in a way that accurately reflects what's happened.

4.     Isn’t the Quality Cadet Unit Award basically a return of the “CAP-MAP” program of the 1980s?
Not at all. CAP-MAP measured administrative inputs – Did you complete a chaplain report?, Did you submit an encampment report?, Did you appoint a CAC representative?, etc. In contrast, the QCUA measures outcomes – Are you flying cadets?, Are you sending cadets to encampment?, Is your unit growing? It was conceivable for a CAP-MAP winning unit to be a paper tiger, while a QCUA winning unit will necessarily have an active, flourishing Cadet Program.  

5.    How can we obtain the streamer?

The QCUA has never come with a streamer, but some units, groups, or wings have made or purchased them.  Due to the continued interest the National Cadet Team is working with Vanguard to develop optional streamers available to purchase in 2018.


Joanna Lee, NHQ Program Manager

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