Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell convened the 2016 Defense Senior Enlisted Council at the Pentagon this morning.
Troxell, the senior enlisted advisor to Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this is the only time of the year that the top noncommissioned officers in the department meet.
The council consists of the senior enlisted advisors for the services, the Coast Guard, the National Guard and the combatant commands. “But I’ve kind of expanded that a bit because of the nature of operations going on and key focus areas, so I’ve invited some sub-unified command folks, too,” Troxell said during an interview on the council meeting.
Senior enlisted advisors from U.S. Forces Korea, Resolute Support Afghanistan, NATO Transformation Command, U.S. Cyber Command and the senior enlisted advisor for the Defense Intelligence Agency are among those attending. The sergeant major is also bringing in the first senior enlisted advisor to the chairman, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Gainey, and retired Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Jim Roy to lend their unique perspectives to the discussions.
Building Cohesion, Synergy
Troxell said he wants to bring the senior NCOs together to build cohesion and synergy. He said he’s looking for the “sweet spot” between those responsible for the “man, train, equip” part of the military — the service senior enlisted advisors — and the operational commands — the combatant and unified command enlisted advisors.
“The service senior enlisted, just by the nature of their positions, have to be parochial,” Troxell said. “If I’m the Sergeant Major of the Army, my responsibility is for every soldier in the United States Army. The same is true for the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force and the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy. They focus on manning, training and equipping their forces.
“The CoCom guys are in the operational environment,” he continued, and their responsibilities revolve around assessing, mitigating and trying to reduce threats in their battlespace, regardless of where they are.
Troxell added, “My idea is to bring those two bodies together, so we have a synergistic force of the top 20 senior enlisted leaders that are getting after business together.”
Defense Secretary’s Address
Defense Secretary Ash Carter will address the council, and the first day will be “the service day,” Troxell said. Each service senior enlisted advisor, he said, will discuss their service — everything from recruiting to training to readiness to equipment. They will specifically address the state of the NCO corps, he added, and the trend lines going forward.
At the end of the first day, Daniel Feehan, the principle assistant secretary of defense for readiness, will address the readiness of the joint force.
Day 2 will be the operational and joint environment. “We are going to talk specifically about the threats we face — the four-plus-one,” Troxell said.
A DIA team is going to come in and discuss Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and countering violent extremism.
Then, each of the combatant command senior enlisted leaders will discuss their areas, said Troxell, noting he expects a good roundtable discussion to generate thought.
Following this, the council will discuss where the military is going with joint enlisted leader development, he said.
The Joint Chiefs Chairman will speak to the council at the end of the second day, Troxell said.
Service Member, Family Issues
The final day of the council meeting will cover a number of aspects, Troxell said. The senior NCOs will hear a discussion on strategy from Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the Joint Staff’s director of strategic plans and policy. After, there will be more discussion, and then the group will concentrate on service member and family issues.
“It sounds like a lot to pack into three days, and it is,” Troxell said. “But we really have to take advantage of this time. We need to have these discussions and we need to work together.”
It’s important for the military’s top NCOs to “be able to share ideas throughout the joint force,” he said.
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