Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aboard a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in Hawaii. (Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

In 4 months, SEAC Troxell has traveled world representing enlisted interests


By Jim Garamone
Department of Defense News

Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell took over as the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff four months ago, and the former senior U.S. military enlisted leader in South Korea has already visited 12 countries with his boss, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt and Israel.

“It’s been a fast train, but I absolutely enjoy it, and it’s everything I thought it would be,” he said.

As SEAC, Troxell is responsible for advising the chairman, vice chairman and defense secretary on the health of the force and enlisted utilization and development. He is the third person to hold the position, succeeding Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia.

Troxell said his job is to engage with troops around the world — to take the pulse of the enlisted force and then report back. That is what is important to his boss, he said.

Troxell has four main goals.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, left, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., center, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, listen to a brief during a visit to the North Camp in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. (Photo by D. Myles Cullen)
Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, left, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., center, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, listen to a brief during a visit to the North Camp in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. (Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

The first, and most important, is to assess the health of the enlisted force and report back, he said.

His second goal is to be an “integral, relevant and responsive” member of the Joint Staff. The SEAC represents enlisted members of the staff, he said, but also ensures the Joint Staff directors know what the SEAC’s role is and how he can help them.

The third part of his job is simple, Troxell said: “When the chairman says, ‘Let’s go,’ I go.”

“When he is engaging troops, I’m there,” he said. “Both of us talking with troops sends a great picture of officer-enlisted relationships.”

That picture sometimes gets clouded, Troxell said, and enlisted leaders can be marginalized.

“The chairman having me with him on key visits to troops reinforces the importance of having this position,” Troxell said.

And finally, Troxell said, he has to be the voice of the enlisted force, especially in Force of the Future initiatives.

“When we talk about [the] women-in-the-service review or any of these working groups that are considering initiatives, I’ve got to be in those meetings and I’ve got to provide the voice for every enlisted member out there on whether this is a good way to go, or not a good way, or what’s the best way to get after this initiative,” he said.

VOICE OF THE JOINT FORCE

As SEAC, his responsibility lies with the joint force, not with individual services. And he considers the joint force healthy.

“There’s room to improve, obviously, on readiness and in our joint warfighting, but I think the force is doing well,” Troxell said.

Communication is key to the health of the force, the SEAC said.

“Here’s what I’ve learned in four months on this job,” he said. “If it’s good or bad, if the troops know what’s expected of them and they know what the future is going to be, they may not like it, but they’ll accept it and get after the mission, and they will accomplish it in a professional manner.”

The same is true of service members’ families, he said.

“If families know what’s happening and they know what to expect for their service members, they may not like it, but they’ll accept it and drive on,” he said.

Troxell said he saw this during a visit to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. In the lead-up to an ordered departure of dependents from the base, there was some complaining, he acknowledged.

“The families didn’t want to leave,” he said. “But in the end, they understood that this is the best course of action to provide for the safety of our families with ever-growing threats around the base. Although they didn’t like it, they accepted it, and in the space of 72 hours, we moved all those families out.”

He hopes to return to Incirlik soon to see how the base is managing.

DEALING WITH BUDGET CUTS

Everywhere he goes, Troxell said, he is asked about budget cuts.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aboard a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in Hawaii. (Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)
Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aboard a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in Hawaii. (Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

“As we move forward in a resource constrained environment, we’ve got to demand greater efficiencies and effectiveness out of what we’re doing with the forces we have,” he said.

Troxell said all levels of the military have to embrace resource-informed planning.

“What I mean by that is that enlisted leader out there has to say, ‘What are the requirements being asked of me? How many people do I have to accomplish this mission? What are the resources I have available?’” he said.

The leader has to look at the risk to the force and for mitigating measures. Then he or she needs to provide recommendation back to the commander.

“Now, if the risk is too high, those NCOs have to be honest,” he added. “They have got to be the best stewards they can be of their personnel and their resources.”

STRIVING FOR EXCELLENCE

Part of that is continually striving for excellence, Troxell said.

“If 60 percent is the passing standard, we can’t shoot for 60 percent,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to empower leaders at every level — especially at the lower levels — to be better stewards and to plan. The more we do this resource-informed planning, the more we strive for excellence, we’re going to save money, we’re going to save resources, and we will have the readiness we need.”

Training is a particular emphasis for Troxell, and he said he is looking specifically at enlisted joint training.

“Nobody in the world trains, educates, empowers and provides opportunities for men and women in the military like the United States,” he said. “No one empowers their enlisted leaders like we do.”

Developing leaders has to remain a priority for the U.S. military, Troxell said.

“That means when it’s time for them to go to school, we have to make it happen,” he said. “We have to get them trained, get them certified, so they can perform these duties.”

It has been tough to do, given the operational tempo of the last 15 years, he acknowledged. The pressure of operations meant the military took risks with service members’ careers to ensure there were enough people downrange.

“We have to look at that another way now: Can we assume risks for the mission to allow people to go to school?” he said. “We also have to ensure we are continuing to adapt our organizational culture.”

The military also needs to incorporate the new ways of learning at all levels of training, he added.

JOINT PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION

Troxell said he is considering expanding the joint professional education model for enlisted personnel.

“I had a prime training and education opportunity,” he said of his previous job as the command senior enlisted leader in Korea.

Based in South Korea are the 7th Air Force, the 8th Army, Naval Forces Korea, Marine Forces Korea and Special Operations Component Korea, he said.

“I established what I called Backbone University — a little two-day course to bring in young NCOs to expose them to how to operate in a joint environment — what the other services do — and then how to operate in a multinational environment, because we brought the Koreans in, too,” he said.

“[It was a] huge home run,” Troxell said. After the course, young NCOs “had the bandwidth” to understand what was happening and why it was important, he said.

“I think we can expose them to joint operations a bit earlier than we do — around the E-5 rank,” he added.

Changes are coming, too, to the Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education program, the sergeant major said. It is split into two sections — one for the E-6/E-7 community and another for the E-8/E-9 community — and Troxell said he sees opportunities for more junior personnel to take advantage of the courses.

“I certainly think we can get a lot better at building a more broadened noncommissioned officer or petty officer than we have,” he said.

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SMA, international senior enlisted leaders tour U.S.-Mexico border


By MEGHAN PORTILLO
NCO Journal

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey and senior enlisted leaders from around the world toured the U.S-Mexico border on Wednesday as part of the International Training and Leader Development Symposium at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The soldiers, representing about 55 countries, visited the border crossing between Sunland Park, New Mexico, and Rancho Anapra, Mexico. Border Patrol agents gave the group a 30-minute presentation, then answered questions. Topics discussed included the basics of the job, the terrain Border Patrol agents face, the technology they use, their tracking abilities and the prosecution process for individuals caught crossing illegally.

The tour ended at the National Border Patrol museum in El Paso, Texas, where the soldiers learned about the early days of the Border Patrol. A helicopter and old patrol vehicles were found on one side of the museum, while the other displayed flying crafts, carts, motorcycles and hand-made boats utilized by undocumented immigrants. Soldiers also perused through weapons exhibits, displays showing the changes in the Border Patrol uniform and a room dedicated to agents who lost their lives in the line of duty.

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(Photos by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

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Senior enlisted soldiers from around the world tour USASMA


By MEGHAN PORTILLO
NCO Journal

Senior enlisted soldiers representing about 55 countries toured the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy on Tuesday as part of the Army’s first International Training and Leader Development Symposium at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The tour, led by Jeff Davis, USASMA’s director of plans and operations, highlighted the academy’s high-tech classrooms and the International Student Hall of Fame, where the seven international students inducted that morning saw their photographs and biographies already displayed.

“The main purpose of this symposium is for you to get to know us,” Davis said while giving the tour. “We hope you will send students to this course, because it makes us better to have you here. You can learn from us and we can learn from you. It’s a mutual partnership.”

The tour ended with a walk down the hallway dedicated to former sergeants major of the Army, where almost every cell phone was busy snapping photographs of the NCO Creed and other documents on display, including a small card carried by William Woodridge communicating the duties and responsibilities of the sergeant major of the Army. The words written by Woodridge became the basis for the formal instructions given to all subsequent sergeants major of the Army.

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(Photos by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

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Senior NCOs, international counterparts begin first-ever leadership symposium


By PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

The value of good leadership wasn’t the only thing stressed during the opening day of the first-ever International Training and Leader Development Symposium.

The event, which began Tuesday at Fort Bliss, Texas, with opening remarks from Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey and Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, Army vice chief of staff. In attendance are a slew of U.S. Army senior enlisted Soldiers along with their international counterparts representing about 55 countries.

The objective of the conference, which ends Thursday, is not only to reinforce the importance of a quality noncommissioned officer corps to a country’s respective army, but also to foster international partnerships and gird U.S. senior enlisted leaders for the task they face as part of a fluctuating Army in a world rife with tumult. Dailey said the impetus for the conference came about nine months ago while he was in Indonesia meeting with New Zealand, Australian and Canadian counterparts.

“The Australian sergeant major said, ‘Hey, mates, let’s go get a pint and talk about something,’” Dailey said. “I said, ‘Hey, 2 o’clock in the afternoon, that’s not an American tradition, but I’m willing to learn international ways.’ So we did just that. We came up with this idea of bringing an international coalition of senior enlisted partners together on an annual basis to be able to build the coalition partnership. The officers already have it, and we thought it was important that our Soldiers see that.”

To help underline that message, Dailey invited Allyn to speak at the conference.

“The vice chief of staff of the Army is the person who helps you get the things you need done on an everyday basis for Soldiers,” Dailey said. “The chief and the secretary, unfortunately, could not come, so I walked into the vice’s office about a week ago, and in Pentagon time that is way late. I said, ‘Sir, I need your help. I have a group of noncommissioned officers, both American and international, that need to hear the voice of senior leadership in the Army.’”

Allyn jumped at the chance. The 35th vice chief of staff of the Army — a role he assumed in August 2014 — said he holds the NCO Corps in high regard, and not merely because his father-in-law was a command sergeant major.

Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, Army vice chief of staff, speaks Tuesday during the opening remarks of the International Training and Leader Development Symposium at Fort Bliss, Texas. The event has drawn dozens of senior enlisted leaders and their international counterparts to discuss the challenges they face in the future. (Photo by Spc. James Seals)
Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, Army vice chief of staff, speaks Tuesday during the opening remarks of the International Training and Leader Development Symposium at Fort Bliss, Texas. The event has drawn dozens of senior enlisted leaders and their international counterparts to discuss the challenges they face in the future. (Photo by Spc. James Seals)

“I had no intention of making a career of service,” Allyn told those in attendance. “I was smart enough to marry a command sergeant’s major daughter. So I was getting noncommissioned officer counseling every single time I went back home. Just think about having a command sergeant major in your hip pocket for life. Is that awesome or what?

“I actually had a motto when I first joined the Army that I’m not in the Army for a long time, I’m in the Army for a good time. But what’s happened along the way is I’ve been having a good time for a long time. The reason is because of how I’ve been inspired by our Noncommissioned Officers Corps. I tell people the reason I’m still in the Army today is I’m trying to pay back the noncommissioned officers who taught me what right looked like as a young company commander in 1st Ranger Battalion. I’ve been paying back for 28 years and I can’t get the debt down.”

Allyn said one of the main challenges facing today’s senior enlisted leaders is maintaining professionalism and competency in an age in which the Army’s resources are stretched considerably. He pointed to the commitment of all three of the Army’s corps headquarters and eight of its 18 division headquarters to missions throughout the globe under the cloud of a drawdown as evidence of how engaged the Force is. Doing more with less is a notion the Army will face as it moves into the future. It’s something even Allyn’s office knows too well.

“Believe me, Gen. (Mark A.) Milley would much prefer to be here,” Allyn said of the Army chief of staff’s absence from the conference. “But he suffers from the same problem that we all do as senior leaders in the Army — that is an inability to clone yourself and be two places at one time. So what do we do? We empower our team to help represent and expand influence and be the chief of staff of the Army’s representative everywhere we go. Certainly all of you as command sergeants major understand what that’s all about. You are the Army’s support chain that represents all our commanders in the field. You do it ably, you do it professionally and you do it each and every day. That’s what makes our Army such an amazing place to come to work and, really, the most trusted profession in the world.”

Working through a drawdown in the Army is not a new concept. It’s something that retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, former Army chief of staff, dealt with during his tenure from 1991 to 1995. Sullivan was present at the conference where he was honored by Dailey and five former sergeants major of the army. Dailey awarded Sullivan with the first-ever honorary sergeant major of the army award during a ceremony. Afterward, he addressed those in attendance.

“I had the unenviable task of making the Army smaller after the first Gulf War,” Sullivan said. “In four years, we lost 400,000, we brought the Army down to about 500,000 active. The glue that held it all together was the noncommissioned officer corps — people out on the front lines, people like you. You are the ones who shoulder the heavy burden.”

To help fulfill that duty going forward, Allyn said leaders have to commit to living and exuding the five essential characteristics of the Army profession — military expertise, honorable service, trust, esprit de corps and stewardship of the profession. These characteristics are based on the Army Values and help foster trust between Soldiers, leaders, families, the Army and the American people.

“This profession of ours has been built on the backs of extraordinary leaders over the past three or four decades,” Allyn said. “When we talk about, ‘How do we keep this going? How do we ensure that this great profession that we’ve built endures.’ It’s all about (these characteristics). It’s about living and exemplifying leaders of character who make values-based decisions each and every day. It’s living up to the SMA’s initiative with, ‘Not In My Squad.’ … It is all about inspiring our Noncommissioned Officer Corps to exemplify the first stanza of the NCO Creed each and every moment of each and every day — ‘No one is more professional than I.’”

That professionalism is something that has long been admired by armies of partner nations. Allyn said one of the recurring questions he is asked when overseas is how to grow a noncommissioned officer corps such as the one in the U.S. Army. Allyn said it is a longstanding and arduous commitment that has yielded such an accomplished group of American NCOs. The challenge that the Army has faced in imbuing partner nations with its concept has been immense.

“We’re finding out that this is a lot harder than just putting stripes on a soldier’s uniform and saying, ‘Hey, go do good things,’” Allyn said.

That is part of the reason USASMA has brought together so many international leaders — to learn from each other’s tribulations and to establish a lasting network of international partnership that can prove mutually beneficial during future conflicts and challenges.

“It’s great to be surrounded by so many professionals,” Allyn said. “It’s an incredible honor to have 55 countries joining us here today. As I have served around the globe and particularly in combat environments over this last 20 years, it has been our teammates, our partners and our allies that have stuck with us through some pretty tough times. Their nations have signed on and committed with us.

“(U.S. NCOs should know) just how important you remain to our Army, how important your leadership, your professionalism, your commitment to standards of discipline will be as we try to stabilize a world that is rapidly trying to spin out of control. It’s going to be the actions of empowered and accountable leaders at the noncommissioned officer level who will ensure that we continue to deliver what our nation needs to do.”

Retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, center, was honored as the first "honorary sergeant major of the Army" by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, right, and five former sergeants major of the Army.(Photo by Spc. James Seals / NCO Journal)

Dailey, predecessors select first ‘honorary sergeant major of the Army’


By CLIFFORD KYLE JONES
NCO Journal

A former chief of staff of the Army received an equally impressive title on April 12, 2016 — the first honorary sergeant major of the Army.

Retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan was honored by current Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey and five former SMAs during Dailey’s first International Training and Leader Development Symposium, held April 12-14 at Fort Bliss, Texas. The conference brought together dozens of U.S. and international senior enlisted leaders.

Sullivan, who was chief of staff of the Army from 1991 to 1995, was honored to be selected as the first to receive the title.

Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, chief of staff of the Army from 1991 to 1995, ran his fingers through the campaign streamers on the flag of the U.S. Army and said, "This is the essential nature of the Army." (Photo by Spc. James Seals / NCO Journal)
Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, chief of staff of the Army from 1991 to 1995, ran his fingers through the campaign streamers on the flag of the U.S. Army and said, “This is the essential nature of the Army.” (Photo by Spc. James Seals / NCO Journal)

“I’m kind of speechless to tell you the truth, …” he said. “A sergeant major of the United States Army? Are you kidding me? I wasn’t always a four-star, and some of the best [mentors] I ever had were noncommissioned officers in the United States Army in some really bad places.”

Dailey said he consulted with former SMAs and his current leadership when he had the idea to honor a person who had demonstrated a lifelong commitment to Soldiers, NCOs and officers. He said the honorary SMA title will only be bestowed once a year and only with the approval of three acting or former SMAs. He said he consulted with many more of his predecessors for this first year, and the decision was unanimous. In fact, there was only one nomination.

Dailey announced Sullivan would be the first honorary sergeant major of the Army at the Association of the U.S. Army meeting last year, but there hadn’t been time for a ceremony.

“Today, I’d like to formally recognize Gen. Sullivan as the first honorary SMA but also as a great mentor, a great leader and a great Soldier, through his entire life, who still to this day represents who we are and what we stand for,” Dailey told attendees at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy just before the conference’s keynote address.

The 15th sergeant major of the Army was joined on stage by the eighth, the 10th, the 12th, the 13th and the 14th.

Former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Julius W. Gates, who served from 1987 to 1991, said Sullivan “was always concerned with just a few things — Soldiers, Soldiers’ families, training and getting the job done. … I have a lot of respect for him.”

Gates also had the honor of being the first to salute Sullivan when he received his fourth star.

“I said, ‘Sir, you owe me $10,’” Gates said he told Sullivan after that salute.

“What?!” an incredulous Sullivan replied.

“’When you’re promoted to second lieutenant, the first person to salute you, you have to pay them $1,” Gates said he told Sullivan. “You’re an O-10, you owe me $10.”

Gates said Sullivan refused then, but about a week later, he presented Gates with a plaque — a $10 bill in a frame.

“I still have that plaque today,” Gates said.

Retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, center, was honored as the first "honorary sergeant major of the Army" by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, right, and five former sergeants major of the Army.(Photo by Spc. James Seals / NCO Journal)
Retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, center, was honored as the first “honorary sergeant major of the Army” by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, right, and five former sergeants major of the Army.(Photo by Spc. James Seals / NCO Journal)

Former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene C. McKinney, who served from 1995 to 1997, said one of the most impressive things Sullivan did was selecting “one of the best sergeants major I’ve ever worked with,” Richard A. Kidd, as his SMA from 1991 to 1995.

McKinney also praised the general’s stewardship and assistance throughout his own promotion and tenure as SMA. “He really took care of me mentally throughout the whole process.”

Former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack L. Tilley, who served from 2000 to 2004, noted that he was in the Army for 36 years.

“Of all the officers that I ever had the opportunity to work with, Gen. Sullivan is by far one of the most professional, most dedicated and most supportive of the noncommissioned officer corps,” he said. “He’s an officer who didn’t just talk about taking care of us, he took care of us. … It’s such an honor for him to be one of us, but I’ll tell you, he’s always been one of us.”

Retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler, who was SMA from 2011 to early 2015, agreed.

He said the No. 1 thing that stands out about Sullivan “is and has been and will be his commitment to the noncommissioned officer corps.”

“Throughout the entire time that I’ve known him, he has been committed to NCO development and also the empowerment of noncommissioned officers to do their job,” he said. “He holds the NCO Corps in high regard.”

Chandler, who was also the first enlisted commandant of USASMA, said Sullivan’s commitment to NCOs was one of the reasons he was among the first people inducted into USASMA’s Hall of Fame.

As chief of staff of the Army, Sullivan’s contributions to the NCO education system include overseeing the establishment of the Battle Staff NCO Course in 1991, which has since trained thousands of NCOs. He also helped usher in video teletraining, which was first used in the Primary Leader Development Course, one of the precursors to today’s Basic Leader Course. He was responsible for taking the Sergeants Major Course from six months to nine months and shifting the focus to battle staff training for division- and corps-level assignments.

Former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston noted that Sullivan has continued to help the Army through his work at AUSA and by continuing to be involved in NCO instruction.

“Gen. Sullivan has continued to take care of Soldiers and their families each and every day.”

Sullivan is still a frequent visitor to USASMA and speaks with sergeants major to be, and he continues to be impressed with the quality of the NCO Corps.

“I’ve been coming here for 25 years, and I’ve seen lots of changes in the NCO Corps over 25 years — all for the better,” he said.

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