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SEAC: Educated, Empowered Enlisted Leaders Needed in Joint Environments

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

Warfare is increasingly transregional, multidomain and multifunctional and professional military education must keep pace with these changes, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said recently.

Following a meeting of the Enlisted Military Education Review Council at the National Defense University here last week, Army Command Sgt. Major John W. Troxell said the military “has to develop our noncommissioned officers and petty officers to function in [an] environment” where threats continue to grow and become more complex.

Troxell noted that the military is becoming an increasingly joint force at lower levels. In the train, advise and assist missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, joint force squads are led by staff sergeants.

Looking to the future, the question becomes how to train and educate “the next senior enlisted advisor to the chairman or [U.S.] Pacific Command senior enlisted leader or sergeant major of the Army?” he said.

Enlisted Leader Attributes

The Enlisted Military Education Review Council seeks to find the answers to these questions. The members are senior enlisted leaders for the services’ training commands, key members of the Joint Staff and representatives from National Defense University. “This is designed to figure out the direction we want to go as a joint force,” the sergeant major said, and how the services can develop leaders in a joint environment.

Specifically, the council looks at achieving the chairman’s six approved enlisted leader attributes:

-- The ability to operate on commander’s intent and enable mission command at all levels;

-- The ability to make sound and ethical decisions based on the values and standards of the profession of arms;

-- The ability to use available resources to enhance the discipline, readiness, resiliency and health of the force;

-- The ability to anticipate, communicate and mitigate risks;

-- The ability to operate in joint, inter-agency, intergovernmental and multinational environments; and

-- The ability to think critically and develop agile and adaptive leaders.

“We expect every noncommissioned officer and petty officer in the United States military to be able to execute at their appropriate level -- whether it is the tactical, operational or strategic level,” Troxell said.

In other words, these attributes apply to all levels of the enlisted force -- a corporal needs to have these qualities as much as a master chief petty officer does, the sergeant major said.

The council meets to get reports from the services to ensure they are able to incorporate these leader attributes through their service training or complemented through joint training.

“It’s just to get a pulse on how we are doing building on what I call our greatest competitive advantage -- trained, educated and empowered enlisted leaders,” he said.

Building Joint Leaders

The services are taking this to heart, Troxell said, and they are taking advantage of career-broadening assignments. He noted that civilian education “helps with the cognitive aspects of what we are doing.”

But each service has a leader development model that trains young noncommissioned officers to grow, develop and operate effectively in their service specific environments, Troxell said.

In the past, he said, there was no joint model that complemented what the services were doing. The joint force needed a blueprint that allowed noncommissioned officers to be competent and focused not only in their parochial lanes, but also a joint or multinational environment, Troxell said.

The review council’s discussions have led to the development of online Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education-1 and SEJPME-2 courses, Troxell said. Senior enlisted personnel also can now access the Joint and Combined Warfighting School, which traditionally has trained only officers. And finally, there is now the Keystone Course for command senior enlisted leaders, which is the equivalent of the Capstone Course for flag and general officers.

There is progress, Troxell said, but more needs to be done. The council recommended increasing enlisted attendance at the Joint and Combined Warfighters School. “We want to reach a bigger audience of senior enlisted [personnel],” he said. The school has 13 seminar groups per course, and the sergeant major said he would like to have a senior enlisted leader in each.

“As we develop this joint leader policy, we want to develop a policy from the chairman that talks about joint leader development,” he said.

The council recommended increasing Keystone attendance to reach a larger target audience, Troxell said. “We want to hit non-command select senior enlisted leaders -- meaning operations sergeants major, master gunnery sergeant[s] and other senior staff NCOs,” he said.

The council has met annually since its formation, but at the most recent meeting members decided that it needs to meet every six months, Troxell said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDODNews)

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