WASHINGTON — The military’s top enlisted service member debuted a new noncommissioned officer and petty officer book here today in what he called a significant moment for all enlisted leaders.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was joined by the chairman, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, as he unveiled “The Noncommissioned Officer and Petty Officer: Backbone of the Armed Forces.”
“Welcome each of you to what is a very, very special moment in our military’s lineage,” Battaglia said. “I’d really like [the book] to serve its intended purpose, and that’s [as] a developmental and educational tool.”
Though the book is focused on the military’s noncommissioned officer and petty officer force, Battaglia said, it carries a larger message.
“I think you’ll see this book will serve the reader whether they serve in uniform or not,” he said.
It addresses commitment, selflessness, teamwork, trust, courage and loyalty, to mention a few qualities, he noted.
Battaglia lauded the book’s contributors, co-led by Dr. Albert C. Pierce, professor of ethics and national security at National Defense University, and retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Curtis L. Brownhill, as a “cadre of professionals.”
“Obviously, this couldn’t have been done without the team,” he said. “I just need to tell you how proud I am of each and every one of them.”
The book took shape from a variety of perspectives, the sergeant major said. “Like many military projects, I felt that for this one to be successful, it would require a unique blend of art, and science and even some academia,” said he explained. “I’m not singling out Mr. Curt Brownhill or Dr. Al Pierce, but these two gentlemen were really the catalyst and the glue that propelled it forward while holding it together.”
Battaglia said creating the book was “an effort that was coated with risk, challenge, excitement and opportunity all wrapped in one mission statement.”
“Back in the middle of 2011, I reached out to Curt and Al to ask them if they would co-lead this never-done-before monstrosity of a project for our NCO corps,” he said. “Both of them immediately committed.”
With Pierce having “book-building experience” from his involvement in the development of the “Armed Forces Officer” book, Battaglia said, it was important the books “not mirror one another but mesh.”
Brownhill brought his experiences rising up through the Air Force enlisted ranks, Battaglia said, and from his time serving as the command senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Central Command.
“At times, Chief Brownhill, Dr. Pierce and I drove the team pretty hard,” Battaglia said. “From re-scoping a particular chapter message that was slightly missed to further research over a weekend, to detailed critiquing of each other’s chapters.”
The NCO and petty officer corps would not have become what it is today without the trust and confidence of commissioned officers, the sergeant major said. “And that’s what’s inside the covers of this book,” he added.
Dempsey told the Pentagon Auditorium audience that he initially was unsure of what the book would be, but that he knew he didn’t want it to “gather dust on a shelf.”
“But then it occurred to me that, actually, the journey to put the book together might be more important than the book itself,” the chairman said. “It would cause you to take a look at who you are as a group of noncommissioned officers and petty officers.
“The journey has actually been really important, I think, and we’ll see what the book becomes,” said he continued. “You really don’t know what a book becomes until you put it on the shelf.”
The chairman said he hopes it becomes a source of conversation, discussion and even passionate arguments about who and what the NCO and petty officer corps is and needs to do for the nation.
Dempsey said the opening chapter of the book started 236 years ago with Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge, when he realized he needed to appeal to the “soul of his army.”
“He did it through the establishment of a noncommissioned officer corps,” he said. “And here we are today, 237 years later, publishing this book, which I hope captures a bit of that historical soul.”
Following the formal presentation of the book, Battaglia, Dempsey and Medal of Honor recipient Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry signed the inaugural copy of the book, which will be placed in the Library of Congress.
“This is really a great moment for the noncommissioned officer and petty officer corps,” Dempsey said.