The most senior-ranking enlisted member of the U.S. Armed Forces, Sergeant Major Bryan Battalia, spoke to an auditorium filled with Soldiers and Airmen from March Air Reserve Base, Jan. 11. As Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Battalia is charged with serving 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.
Noted for his seasoned speaking ability, Battalia opened the discussion with lighthearted Marine-humor to put the audience at ease. With everyone settled in and ready to receive his message, he immediately began hammering down the importance of integrating the serving forces [Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines] into one Total Force. It is the vision of the Chairman, therefore the vision everyone serving will share.
“The priorities of the Secretary of Air Force, the Chief of Naval Operations and the Secretary of Army all work in concert together to formulate the National Security Strategy and National Military Strategy,” said Battalia. “These doctrines outline the major national security concerns of the United States, how the administration plans to deal with them and outlines the strategic aims of the armed forces.”
Battalia elaborated on how the current fiscal climate will change the way the military operates. For example, service-specific technical schools will soon house all branches of service. If the Air Force has a school for combat medics, future classroom rosters will soon begin expanding to accept Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, he said.
As the Sgt. Major further engaged with the troops, he then began talking about the issue of keeping faith with the military family. He said that our leadership understands the importance of family and how, when the military is called off to foreign lands, those left behind would be well taken care of. Knowing families back home have access to services designed to ease the hardships during deployments, allows the warrior to stay focused and accomplish the mission with success, he explained.
“I was deployed overseas to Iraq during Hurricane Katrina and being from New Orleans, my immediate and greater family were greatly affected by it – all communications were cut off, so I had no idea whether they were dead or alive,” said Battalia. “I trust my government, so I knew that my family was going to be all right. I have faith in our elected officials.”
Keeping faith with the military family not only concerns dependents, but also the uniformed family, according to General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. The missions that commanders and senior NCOs prepare for are filtered down from the top, making it the Chairman’s job to ensure the armed forces have the required resources to enter battle fully prepared and trained.
Recently, the CJCS released his roadmap entitled, “Joint Force 2020,” which was the topic Battalia transitioned to after solidifying the need to integrate the services and the importance of the total military family. According to Dempsey, the U.S. Armed Forces are roughly hovering around 80 percentile for completion and are expected to be “full-up” in the near future, despite the current fiscal restraints.
As explained in the 2020 roadmap, in the words of Battalia, the military will be, “A trained, equipped, ready-relevant force, that can handle any emerging requirements that the President and Secretary of Defense deem crucial to national defense.” As in the past, our forces will experience a reduction-in-force and trimmed operating budget, which is normal and has happened after every major conflict the U.S., has played a major role in, he said.
Battaglia briefly touched on issues concerning renewing commitment to service and the health and wellness of the forces, before reaching out for questions from the audience.
Airman Pachecko, 163rd Civil Engineering Squadron asked, “In respect to the Marine Corps Female Engagement Teams: What has been the success rate in comparison to the Army’s FET programs and can these be implemented in some form or another throughout the other services?
Battaglia replied, “These programs, designed to open communication with female Muslim population where we are deployed, have yielded successful results. The concept has been written into the Battle Doctrine and will be ready-accessible to all branches of the military.”
As the questions wound down, along with his allotted speaking time, Battaglia moved to close out his engagement with the troops.
“You may not have the Gucci jobs or receive immediate notoriety for your deeds — that’s ok. All we want to do is make a difference — for the next one after you. We live in a world today where our Armed Forces are the most respected organizations that society knows of and that’s because they believe in us. There should never come a time where our integrity, ethical or moral-high ground come into question on a consistent basis, so that society loses trust in us — we will never let that happen. Thanks for serving!”