Marine Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed a packed house of Airmen and Sailors during an enlisted call at Luke Air Force Base Tuesday.
As the SEAC, Battaglia serves as the principal military advisor to the chairman and the secretary of defense on all matters involving joint and combined total force integration, utilization, health of the force and joint development for enlisted personnel.
The SEAC covered a variety of topics including Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey’s four priorities of achieving our national objectives in the current conflicts; developing Joint Force 2020; keeping faith with our military family; and renewing our commitment to the profession of arms.
Noting the end of the Iraq war and the continued downsizing of the conflict in Afghanistan, Battaglia said now the military must go through readjustments. He said downsizing will come through personnel and equipment, mentioning the Army will feel the most significant decrease, losing around 90,000 Soldiers.
Addressing the oft-discussed topic of one uniform for all of the services, Battaglia said the thought has merit on the battlefield, but not in garrison.
“It’s very important to maintain service identity – you’re proud to be an Airman, you guys are proud to be Sailors and I’m proud to be a Marine — and there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. There is a question, he said, asking if there’s a uniform the services may be able to use on the battlefield that is one uniform and consistent to all like the flightsuit.
“The aviation community uses one flightsuit — it’s either desert or green (colored) depending on the environment you’re in, but there’s one,” he said. “So why do the ground forces have to have ABUs, ACUs, MCCUs … it becomes complicated.” The idea of one uniform for the operational environment has potential, but he added that the jury is still out, especially since a study for the notion would require money.
The SEAC then talked about the country’s current financial situation.
“It’s not a secret; everyone knows we’re in some debt,” he said. “The last 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan have really cost us. We’ve been able to use the monies mostly in a productive way that afforded us gear and equipment that protected us or provided us the ability to get inside the enemy’s decision-making cycle. That bill is quite large.
“Our share in the Defense Department right now is $487 billion, and we’re going to have to pay that back over the next 10 years. We can do that. It’s not the first time we’ve been here. We’ve got a plan. We’re not going to take it from any one source. We’ve got to tighten the belt. There’s going to be shavings across the board,” he said.
In that regard, Battaglia suggested service members take advantage of the education benefit of tuition assistance available today before it goes away.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “Use it while you’ve got it. I can tell you that with a $487 billion deficit, tuition assistance isn’t going to last. Tuition assistance is not a mandated entitlement; it’s a ‘nice to have.’ How long it will last, I can’t tell you.”
Before departing, Battaglia coined 22 Luke Airmen chosen by their leadership for exceptional performance.