American Forces Press Service —
The military’s top enlisted leader praised service members and their families at Joint Base Langley–Eustis, Va., March 7 for their professionalism, flexibility and tenacity during a time of impending change for the Defense Department.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke during Air Combat Command’s annual awards dinner, where he lauded troops for their service and their families for their unwavering commitment.
“I just want to say how tremendously proud we are of the service members and civilian workforce that comprise our total force,” he said.
Also, Battaglia said, it takes a very special family to endure the frequent and lengthy separations and household moves inherent in military life, especially while shouldering hardships awaiting the return of loved ones.
“We hope you share our excitement and pride that our military family is the heart and soul of our force,” he said, leading a round of applause for military spouses in attendance.
While families are the military’s heart and soul, the sergeant major said, “our serving men and women stand tall as the center of gravity.”
“Despite the impending changes to our force,” he said, alluding to uncertainty in the defense budget and the nation’s transition from a 13-year wartime footing. “We’ll forge through it and adapt to upgrades and modernization. It may sting, but we shoulder a duty and responsibility to our country and its citizens.”
Some areas of change, such as pay and compensation, may take a little longer to return to normal than others, Battaglia said, but the military’s leaders hope to do this just once.
“Our professionalism, tenacity and moral obligation will see us through,” he said. “We can never forget that we are a loyal, patriotic and professional organization our society respects and admires, and an organization that many nations, in fact, envy.”
The senior enlisted advisor said each service member -- no matter their rank or status -- has attained the credentials and privilege to proudly wear the uniform, earning their coveted title of soldier, sailor, airman or Marine. He said it is “professionally humbling” and that he feels “very fortunate” leading and representing a force of more than 2 million enlisted men and women -- active duty, Reserve and National Guard -- and their families.
Battaglia provided an overview of the challenges that lie ahead for the department, troops and their families.
“It should be no surprise to anyone here that as we have returned forces from Iraq and continue to methodically redeploy forces from Afghanistan, we are also restructuring and reshaping our total force,” Battaglia said. “Like we have after every major conflict, readjustment in personnel and equipment comes as part of that post-conflict cycle.”
While the armed forces may be leaner tomorrow than they are today, Battaglia said, they will remain ready, relevant, trained, poised and postured to meet any emergent requirement as the president directs to defend the nation.
The sergeant major said every service and component will be reshaped in some manner, but there will be a slight build-up in cyber warriors and special operations forces.
“You know the capability they bring,” Battaglia said. “Cyber is certainly a viable and current challenge to our country’s security. Freedom is not free.”
The sergeant major noted that the fiscal challenges the nation faces will affect the armed forces as well.
“It shows us from multiple perspectives that war, through all phases, comes with a cost,” he said. “We have some state-of-the-art equipment and technology that has allowed our forces to not only defeat our enemy … but prevent and avoid engagement partly because of advanced technology.”
Battaglia said he uses “freedom is not free” means that keeping adversaries out of reach comes with a monetary cost to supply operational forces. But more importantly, he said, freedom comes with a human cost: the lives of service members who gallantly have given their full devotion.
With the sacrifices of those serving over the last 13 years, Battaglia said, “no dollar amount can be placed to that price.”
“It is one of the sacrifices that every one of you who have sworn the oath carries with you each day,” he added. “On any given day, you are prepared to support and defend [it] at all costs.”
Battaglia acknowledged more than 90 award nominees “who have gone the full mile, and a handful within that group who happened to go even a little further.”
“All of them,” he said, are “honorable in their actions and courageous in their hearts. They are the members of our team who have set a fine example [with] not only their past performance, but rather their future potential.”
(Follow Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallAFPS)