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Leaders Must Prepare Troops for Society, Battaglia Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The military and its leaders have a responsibility to prepare service members to become productive members of society, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told enlisted sailors and Marines here today. 

Leading troops into battle is only part of the job for officers and senior enlisted service members, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia said. Troops eventually become civilians again, he noted, and when that time comes, it would be a disservice to send them out into the world without preparing them for the new challenges they will face.

"If we're not doing that, shame on us," Battaglia said.

In the past, the Defense Department didn't do a very good job of that, he acknowledged, but he said that's changing. The new transition assistance program called Transition Goals Plans Success, or Transition GPS, has made a big difference in the way service members are prepared for civilian life, he said.

Another facet of leadership is developing the ability to handle change and adversity, Battaglia said. Like physical and operational fitness, he told the sailors and Marines, resilience is a skill that has to be developed and maintained through hard work and with the help of others. Family members, fellow service members and military leaders are all part of maintaining the fitness of the total force, and resilience is the cornerstone of that effort, he said.

Resilience also is part of the Defense Department's response to fiscal uncertainty, Battaglia said. The department will "have to be innovative and be creative to find other ways to train … until we come out of this fiscal cellar," he told the service members. For example, he said, rather than shutting down a service-specific professional school, schools that teach similar skills could combine and conduct cross-service training.

This isn't the first time the Defense Department has gone through a period of fiscal austerity, the sergeant major said, adding that the department will endure.

Battaglia also noted that part of the call to service members to renew their commitment to the profession of arms by Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey is reviewing the deeper meaning of that commitment. 

"The profession you're in is more than just a job," Battaglia said, noting that every service member, officer or enlisted, is linked by the oath to protect and defend the United States. "That's the beauty of it," he added.