By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
NAVAL AIR STATION JACKSONVILLE, Fla., May 5, 2015 – The military’s top senior enlisted leader met with sailors and Marines, toured facilities and hosted a town hall meeting here yesterday.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stopped at the base as part of a six-day visit to the area to promote the Defense Department’s partnership with the PGA Tour and nonprofit organizations that help service members and veterans.
At a troop talk, Battaglia spoke about a number of topics ranging from the budget to total force fitness.
Biennial Awards Review
Every other year, the sergeant major said, the Defense Department reviews the awards system, looking to improve its efficiency, and the latest review is in progress.
In looking for modernization in military awards, he said, officials are considering creation of “drone” and “cyber” medals. “We’re still messing around with that to see how we can recognize those folks who are engaged in eliminating an adversary, yet removed from direct … action,” he explained. “We’re going to find something that’s applicable for them, because their service does, in fact, need to be recognized.”
Battaglia also noted the Bronze Star Medal is being reviewed as the department determines how to reduce some redundancy in awards.
The sergeant major also said he has proposed a more effective use of the awards revocation process, an idea the other service senior enlisted leaders have endorsed.
“We have a revocation process in our DoD system, but I don’t think it’s effectively utilized,” he said. “We need some kind of automatic mechanism.”
NCO, Petty Officer Book
Battaglia also discussed the book titled “Noncommissioned Officer and Petty Officer: Backbone of the Armed Forces,” which was released in December 2013.
“I’m proud of it,” he said. “It’s got my fingerprints on it, only because I led an effort [through] a working group that made this happen. This is not Battaglia’s book. This is your book. “[It’s] for every petty officer sitting in the audience now, around the Navy and beyond.”
Petty officers and NCOs from all services were involved in writing the book, Battaglia said. “I call it a best-seller, but it’s free of charge,” he said. “It doesn’t cost anything. I hope you take the time to invest in and read it.”
Battaglia also discussed the 15 recommendations of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission. President Barack Obama informed Congress on April 30 that the Defense Department is prepared to support specific proposals for 10 of the recommendations and to study the others.
“Some of those 15 we agreed with,” Battaglia said, “[and] some of them we disagree with. Some of them we said, ‘Maybe, and we just need a little bit more work.’
Changes are ahead, the sergeant major said, to ensure the services survive fiscally and operationally, but he noted the situation is still at the “pre-decisional” stage.
Battaglia also reminded the service members that their time in uniform is limited, and the day will come when it is time to separate. He noted that he and his wife, Lisa, were overwhelmed with information when they attended retirement seminars through the old transition program.
He said he assumed he was familiar with all of the programs and benefits available, but realized he should have done more to be ready for life after the military.
“If I could do it over again, I’d probably start earlier,” he said. “As any mission you have in the military, the better you prepare, the more your chances are for success.”
The Defense Department recently overhauled the transition system, he noted, and it’s now called the Transition Goals, Plans, Success Program, or Transition GPS.
“You might think it was a navigational system, right -- GPS?” he said. “It is, in a way, because it does give you direction as to what that next chapter’s going to be. I’m a big believer in it as I go through it myself.”
Bridging the Basics
The sergeant major also told the sailors and Marines here that a call to “bring it back to the basics” has started to resonate throughout the armed forces.
“I’ve started to think a little more … and what that means is kind of taking on a different meaning,” Battaglia said. The generational gap between troops who began serving in the 1970s and 1980s and those of today’s generation, he said, reflects “two completely different environments.” But the answer, he added, is not to abandon one for the other.
“Instead of going completely back,” the sergeant major said, “look, develop and find ways to bridge.” Some of the old ways still have much to offer, he added, but that doesn’t mean that only the old ways should be in use today.
“Let’s bridge the basics by using today’s ingenuity, today’s technology, today’s creativity in the 21st-century service member,” Battaglia said. “I don’t think ‘back to the basics’ is incorrect. I just think it’s incomplete.”
Total Force Fitness
The final topic the sergeant major touched on was Total Force Fitness, the Defense Department’s resilience program.
Total Force Fitness, Battaglia said, is more than just running, pull-ups, crunches and pushups. It goes deeper than just exercises, he explained, and also comes from nutrition, spiritual fitness and psychological behavior.
“This is important, too,” he said. “This is all about dealing and coping with life and adversity. And when we think in the military of fitness, we get caught in that traditional mode of the warfighter.”
Total Force Fitness means developing and using every mental and physical tool at your disposal to “cope and maneuver through the adversity that you may see,” he said. “It’s TFF -- pronounced ‘tough,’ because we want you thinking, believing and feeling that you’re mentally tough.”