WASHINGTON, April 18, 2014 —
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answered questions from the total force on the premiere of the Pentagon Channel’s “Troop Talk” program today, covering topics from women’s roles in combat to hiring veterans.
Battaglia answered questions submitted through social media outlets and from studio audience members.
One of the top queries from the audience concerned the extent of women’s roles in combat. Battaglia noted that full implementation of women into combat ranks is scheduled to take place in 2016.
“Everything is tracking fine,” he said of the services allotting billets for women in frontline positions. “Women are part of the team -- one team, one fight.”
In the arena of sexual assault, the sergeant major said the Defense Department is making strides toward eliminating the crime from its ranks.
“Sexual assault is a continuing challenge in the military,” Battaglia said. “We’ve made vast, significant efforts. We’ve equipped commanders with more investigation techniques to build evidence to help prosecute the perpetrators. We have a robust victim’s assistance program.”
Affording dignity and respect to sexual assault victims is important when cases are being investigated, he said, and officials are continuing to work the issue.
“We’re not going to give up,” he said.
Battaglia also emphasized the importance of hiring veterans, noting that “an appetite” exists among small to large corporations to hire former service members.
“Veterans are commonly known for their talents, skills and work ethic, whether they served four years or four decades,” he said. “They are an investment. [The military] teaches them to fight, and then how to re-enter society to do many great things. Our responsibility as military leaders is to mold and develop them to do our nation’s [work], and then prepare America’s sons and daughters to go back into society.”
Battaglia also discussed a book titled, “The NCO and Petty Officer: The Backbone of The Armed Forces,” which he published with the help of a group of noncommissioned officers. “It’s an easy read,” he said, adding that it is free, and available.
NCOs want to continue to be leaders, he noted, so sharing the book is important. Battaglia said he wants young enlisted service members to read the book to realize they can aspire to become NCOs.
He added that he’d like to see officer corps members read it as well, because it may provide ideas on how they can empower their NCOs. It’s also important for parents of service members to read it, Battaglia said.
“A civilian can read it,” he added. “It’s not filled with military jargon.”
“Troop Talk” host Scott Howe asked Battaglia what “We will never forget” means to him.
“That’s a very emotional topic [to all service members],” Battaglia said. The number of casualties from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars might be small when compared with World War I and World War II, but the wars of the last 13 years have been “up close and personal,” he said.
Stationed here in the nation’s capital, Battaglia said, he’s reminded daily to “never forget” when he drives every day past Arlington National Cemetery.
“When I jog by the Korean and World War II memorials, I drop a knee and say a prayer,” he said. “The price of freedom is not free.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkAFPS)