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Chairman's Enlisted Advisor Visits U.S. Strategic Command

By Staff Sgt. Aaron Cram, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., Dec. 5, 2005 – The first senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reminded servicemembers stationed at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters here that they are just as worthy of being called warriors as the men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, the first senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to U.S. Strategic Command enlisted personnel Dec. 2 at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Gainey visited STRATCOM Dec. 1 and 2 as part of his tour to take a closer look at the combatant commands' missions and meet with units and senior enlisted leaders. Photo by Rick Wilson

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. "Joe" Gainey visited STRATCOM Dec. 1 and 2 as part of his tour to take a closer look at the combatant commands' missions and meet with the units' senior enlisted leaders. During his visit, Gainey, who assumed his current position Oct. 1, received several briefings from men and women assigned to STRATCOM and took an opportunity to speak with the command's enlisted force.

The sergeant major said his briefings were very educational and caused him to think about STRATCOM's soldiers', sailors', airmen's, Marines' and civilians' contributions to the global war on terrorism.

"The young men and women of U.S. STRATCOM are warriors, and they need to believe that, because this is what they are," Gainey said. He said the young men and women operating at Offutt are providing the troops in Iraq or throughout the world with the capabilities to use their systems.

During a speech at a joint professional military education session, Gainey explained his newly created position and his priorities as the chairman's advisor.

"The chairman told me he could not picture being the first Marine chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff without having a senior enlisted advisor seated next to him," Gainey said. "When General Pace asks my advice about issues or concerns, I will always be up front with him and give him an honest answer."

Gainey said his position basically breaks down into four roles: being the senior enlisted leader in the Department of Defense; providing oversight for topics the chairman is concerned with; being a spokesman for the enlisted force to the chairman and the chairman's spokesman to the enlisted force; and being an integrator. As an integrator, Gainey said his job is to integrate solutions across military services that may have similar problems.

Gainey also said his priorities mimic those of the chairman. His first priority is to strengthen the relationship between combatant command and service senior enlisted leaders and the Joint Staff, because the working relationship between them has to be solid. When it's not, Gainey said, it affects the young men and women serving below them.

The second priority is to improve education for all joint-service members through a joint military education program. His third priority is safety, because all the services are losing too many people to noncombat injuries, Gainey said.

The sergeant major said his fourth priority is quality of life, but not because it's the least important. "It's the one that's never going to end," he said. "The chairman and I are committed to the quality of life for all of our servicemembers. Priorities 1, 2 and 3 we can fix and slide others in their place, but quality of life is a never-ending process. It's the foundation of my three other priorities."

After sharing his priorities, Gainey asked the leaders in the audience to ask their troops to practice what he calls the four Cs: candor, courage, commitment and confidence. He explained that each leader should ask their subordinates to be candid with them, have the courage to do the right thing when no one is watching, be committed to their jobs, and be confident in everything they do.

Gainey also shared his view on what junior enlisted people want from their leaders. "They want all of the responsibility they can handle," he said. His "R Triple A Plan" calls for the leaders to pass their subordinates responsibility, give them the authority to carry out that responsibility, hold them accountable for what they are responsible for, and assist them when they need help.

The sergeant major's advice didn't stop there. "As leaders, don't forget where you come from," he said. "Be true to yourself. If you're not true to yourself, you can't be true to your fellow soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen.

"Also, always make a self-assessment every single morning," Gainey said. "When I got up this morning, I made an assessment of what I did yesterday. And then today I thought to myself, 'Well, I'm going to make a difference in someone's life today.' That's what the leaders need to do. Always focus on making a difference in someone's life each day."

The senior enlisted advisor also offered different advice for the junior enlisted troops. "Be the best that you are," Gainey said. "Learn your trade and get what I call a PhD in being a soldier, sailor, Marine, airman or Coastie; ... get a PhD in what you do on active duty."

Gainey also shared his thoughts on working in a joint environment.

"What I would ask all the services to do when you work in a joint environment is to take your index finger and cover your service on your name tape," Gainey said. "What do we have? We have 'U.S.' It's all about 'us.' No one service takes priority over another one. I'm not telling you not to be proud of your service; I'm proud of being in the Army. Be proud of your unit, your service and yourself because pride is very contagious."

To close his session with the men and women of STRATCOM, the sergeant major called the oldest and youngest servicemembers to the front of the ballroom.

"I do this because it's about the oldest servicemember that actually paved the way for all of us," Gainey said. "It's also about the youngest, because we as the oldest have to stick to our policies and procedures to make sure we provide them a future."

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Aaron Cram is assigned to U.S. Strategic Command.)

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Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, USA

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U.S. Strategic Command

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