U.S. Army photos by Warren W. Marlow and Cpl. Han, Jae Ho
CAMP HUMPHREYS - Soldiers, Marines and Airmen had a chance to speak with the military’s senior enlisted member during a town hall meeting here May 4.
Marine Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stopped by the Camp Humphreys Super Gym as part of his week-long visit to Korea.
Battaglia started with a good-natured ribbing for what he deemed an
insufficient opening “Hooah” from audience members.
He then dove into the issues at hand and stressed the meeting needed to be interactive in order to be effective.
He encouraged noncommissioned officers to get to the root of issues rather than just dealing with the surface. He recalled seeing a corporal who had a junior enlisted member in his squad that had bounced checks. The corporal worked with the servicemember to pay off the debts and counseled him about not doing it again. But it turned out the servicemember lacked the ability to balance his checkbook, so the main issue stayed unresolved. Battaglia called it “a Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound.”
He also discussed the Department of Defense drawdown. He noted he experienced a drawdown when he joined the military in 1979. “I was one of the junior (Marines) at the time and I had Vietnam veterans show me how to do it and we’ll do it again,” he said. “We have a military that is highly professional because it’s an all-volunteer force that wants to be here.”
But, he added, however things play out, the military must and will remain strong.
“Only the military has a commitment of this kind of magnitude,” he said. “It’s more than a job and it’s an honor and privilege to serve. American society believes in us and we can never afford to lose their trust and confidence.”
Battaglia touched on the importance of family, because of its importance to Soldier readiness and he addressed suicide prevention. He then opened the floor to questions. Audience members seemed reluctant to address a servicemember of his stature until Battaglia told them, “I traveled 6,500 miles and I’m not leaving until I get at least one question.”
That lightened the mood and the first question addressed the status of Humphreys transformation. “Everything is still on track,” he said. “I don’t see any possibility of cancelling the plan. And what a opportunity this is. Many of you may not be around when it’s completed, but you may think, ‘I’ve got to come back.’”
Another question focused on retirement changes. Battaglia said, “I have a lot of information on that because I’m getting close to retirement. We want the best retirement plan for our servicemembers. We have your best interests in mind and we are studying to see if the plan is the best one.”
As the military’s most senior noncommissioned officer, Battagllia regularly interacts with servicemembers in environments such as the Camp Humphreys town hall. He uses the information he collects to advise the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense, on matters involving joint and combined total force integration and enlisted members. It’s a job he loves.
“It is a privilege and honor to have the opportunity to represent enlisted members and their families,” he said. “If you bring an issue to our attention that needs a Department of Defense-level solution, we do our best to come up with one.”