By Claudette Roulo DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, December 10, 2015 — Tomorrow, after 36 years as a Marine, Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will retire and pass his responsibilities to Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell.
Battaglia is just the second enlisted service member to hold the position. Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. "Joe" Gainey was the first SEAC, from Oct. 1, 2005, until he retired in April 2008. Former chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen did not appoint a SEAC during his tenure, but Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey made it a priority to choose a senior enlisted advisor and Battaglia was sworn in just hours after Dempsey took his own oath as chairman.
Although the position was vacant when he was sworn in, Battaglia said the transition to working on the Joint Staff was made easier by the fact that he was coming from U.S. Joint Forces Command.
“I was already in a position where I was impacting and collaborating with all the combatant commands -- and in some cases, the services too,” he said last week in an interview with DoD News.
And now, Battaglia said, he’s not sure which thing he’s happier about: that the position of SEAC will now have some continuity, or who was chosen to fill it.
He and Troxell “know each other very well,” Battaglia said.
“We've spent some time together; I've visited him on several occasions when he was a unit command sergeant major in various organizations around the globe, so I know how he operates,” Battaglia said.
Troxell “is a very, very intelligent soldier,” Battaglia said. “If he needs to know something, he'll certainly ask. ... He's going to have a great staff -- and that was part of the transition as well, that we kept a staff in place that was already broken in and seasoned, if you will, that he can fall in on and let him make an assessment.”
Battaglia added that he has “every confidence in the world” that Troxell will continue to grow the office of the SEAC and to make a positive impact on policies that affect military personnel, families, programs and initiatives.
“I have left a lot of work for my successor to do and you all will see -- the force will see -- how he will take this office and its efforts and initiatives to a much higher level and degree than I ever could,” he said.
Proud to Serve
Asked about his proudest accomplishments as SEAC, Battaglia said the pride “simply comes in the form of the opportunity to continue to serve. It stops there.”
He went on to thank Dempsey, his staff, and fellow senior enlisted advisors for any success he’s had as SEAC.
The office’s responsibilities grew quickly, Battaglia said, in large part because of the chairman’s insistence that his senior enlisted advisor be an active part of the most difficult discussions facing the DoD -- including those regarding pay and compensation, modernization and the shaping of the armed forces for the decades ahead.
The sergeant major credits Dempsey with ensuring that not only was the SEAC part of those discussions, but that the discussions occurred at all.
"He made a promise, not just to himself, but to the entire force, that there were things that we could probably ... kick down the road for the next chairman, or the next chairman [after that], to handle," Battaglia said, "but [Dempsey said] 'I'm not going to do that, troops. It needs to be handled or it's only going to get worse, and I'm going to handle it now. And if there's someone who needs to take a black eye or a fat lip because of [it], that's going to be me -- I want to do that because we have some challenging times ahead.'"
The sergeant major said he was grateful to be a part of that experience with Dempsey.
After tomorrow’s change-of-responsibility ceremony, Battaglia said that he and his wife, Lisa -- herself a Marine veteran -- would prefer that all the attention be focused on the troops.
“We’ll ride off into the sunset as everyone does when they retire, proud not just for our service in the Corps, but proud for the opportunity to serve at this level and make whatever impact that we did,” the sergeant major said.
Battaglia said words can’t express how proud he is of the troops serving today.
“They're ready to go,” he said. “For someone to be sitting on the bench with hand raised saying 'Put me in coach, put me in,' is pretty refreshing. ... Young men and women of America that join our armed forces don't really come in to sit on their hands. They come in to take on some pretty important responsibilities and if there's an opportunity to provide that opportunity to them, then we should take advantage of it.”