Many Soldiers and leaders believe they have no responsibility or culpability for Army property unless they have accepted it on a hand receipt, but property accountability is the core of military equipment stewardship. The Army standard for maintaining and tracking supplies is for Soldiers to treat the property as if it was their own. The Army Command Supply Discipline Program, implemented by Army Regulation 710-2, “Supply Policy Below the National Level,” is the embodiment of that standard. The CSDP provides Soldiers and leaders alike a common set of rules for safeguarding scarce resources.
Every Soldier has some level of responsibility for property in his unit. There are five types of responsibility when it comes to accountability. They are command, supervisory, direct, custodial and personal responsibility. The commander has “command” responsibility as soon as he takes command. A platoon leader or section chief has “supervisory” responsibility once he assumes his position. Squad leaders, team chiefs and staff officers and noncommissioned officers in charge incur the same supervisory responsibility. Soldiers have “direct” responsibility if they have physical control of property or if they have signed for it on a hand receipt. Soldiers who sign a hand receipt are accountable for all components of items listed on the hand receipt unless they receive a valid shortage annex which lists components that are not available for issue. Without a valid shortage annex, an item is assumed to be complete. “Custodial” responsibility results from assignment as a supply sergeant, supply custodian, supply clerk or warehouse person, or is rated by and answerable directly to the accountable officer or individual having direct responsibility for the property. The final type of responsibility, “personal responsibility,” is inherent in all members of the armed forces.
These five types of responsibilities are linked to one common goal — the proper care, use, and safeguarding of Army property. These responsibilities are a cornerstone of sound leadership; they cannot be delegated, withdrawn or ignored. These responsibilities are assumed with or without a hand receipt. The CSDP allows commanders to set a climate in which supply policies are enforced. It establishes an environment in which Soldiers and leaders can manage property proactively and requisition supplies and equipment. Soldiers and leaders who are responsible for equipment must know their equipment, its whereabouts and its status. When one person deviates from the standard of maintaining, caring for and safeguarding Army property, the CSDP is compromised.
The Army has a proven, time-tested process for managing property. By following the CSDP and providing proper command emphasis to its enforcement, Army units will have the resources needed to fight and win wars.
For more information, call the Inspector General Office, 533.3448.