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Battaglia Lauds Joint Development Course Graduates

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va., May 19, 2014 – The senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff praised a group of enlisted military leaders who’d completed a three-day joint leadership course here May 16.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to 105 graduates of the inaugural class of the National Capital Region Joint Professional Development Seminar at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, May 16, 2014. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia spoke to 105 junior NCOs and petty officers who graduated from the National Capital Region Joint Professional Development Seminar.

The course -- the first of its kind -- taught the skills, knowledge and experience required to lead and execute joint missions.

Battaglia recalled his time as a junior NCO.

“It was different then [as] compared to now,” he said. “[Although,] while there have been some differences, leadership remains unchanged.”

Battaglia said he was promoted to corporal in 1981 after having been in the Marine Corps for just under two years. He made sergeant about eight months later.

“Becoming an NCO was a proud moment, not just for me, but my wife, Lisa,” Battaglia said. “Oh yes, family members do, in fact, play a part in this as well.”

The sergeant major described becoming an NCO as the “beginning of what would be a life-changing transformation.”

 “This entry and acceptance into the noncommissioned officer community didn’t make me an absolute expert, albeit, people would sometimes look at you as that.”

NCOs pay professional “dues” during their careers, he said, as they progress in learning and fulfillment of their leadership responsibilities and obligations.

“It’s like a daily stipend where any given evening you should be able to look into the mirror and ask yourself, ‘Have I paid my dues today?’” Battaglia said.

Yet everyone’s human, the sergeant major said, so some days the answer to the “dues” question is likely going to be ‘no.’ But hopefully, he added, such days are few.

Battaglia emphasized to the audience of junior NCOs and petty officers that, collectively, they are a part of a “very unique” brotherhood and sisterhood -- especially in terms of their position in the military’s organizational structure.

“We, as an NCO Corps, execute from the structure’s middle,” the sergeant major said. “Some could look at it as a center of gravity. Most will look at it as a backbone.”

Sometimes an NCO’s professional dues may be paid in the form of making unintentional mistakes, the sergeant major said, as he related a story of one he learned from.

As a fledgling NCO, Battaglia once observed an earring-wearing young man in civilian clothes at the local Base Exchange with a “fresh, high-and-tight haircut.” Battaglia said he believed the person was a service member.

Then a newly-minted sergeant, Battaglia approached him and demanded that he remove the earring and surrender it along with his military ID card. The situation was exacerbated, the sergeant major said, by the fact that the young man told him he didn’t have an ID card.

Battaglia said he lectured the young man for “embarrassing my Marine Corps” and testing the system.

“As far as I was concerned, he knew the rules and deliberately broke them,” the sergeant major recalled.

After reading the young man the riot act, Battaglia said he asked him what unit he was with.

“He told me that he was not a Marine -- but his dad is. He was the son of a colonel and went to the high school on the base.”

From this experience, Battaglia said he learned not to “judge a book by its cover,” and that leaders, like any person, can make mistakes.

“Though embarrassed, it made me a better leader today.”

Battaglia also told the graduates that although professional military education teaches problem-solving skills, the primary purpose of enlisted leaders should be to prevent problems before they occur.

The sergeant major said NCOs and petty officers should always be prepared and be held accountable both as individuals and as a professional group.

“These observations are not centric to one service, but fit across all fabrics of uniform,” he said.

Today’s NCOs and petty officers are an experienced and tested group of leaders with an inventory of talent, ingenuity, and expertise, Battaglia said.

“Never forget that a true professional understands the humble privilege to serve, has the moral courage to stand firm, and the tenacious pride to support and defend.

“It’s what our country expects; it’s what our country deserves,” Battaglia added. “It is how we remain America’s defender of freedom.”

(Follow Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallAFPS)


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Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia

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