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New SEAC to Serve as Chairman's Eyes and Ears to Joint Force

Jan. 24, 2020 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

The new senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is not one for staying inside the Pentagon.

SEAC Ramon "CZ" Colon-Lopez, the Air Force pararescueman chosen by Army Gen. Mark Milley to be the fourth person to fill the most senior enlisted rank in the American armed forces, will serve as the eyes and ears of the chairman. "I'm a directed telescope and an extension of him," the SEAC said during an interview. "So, everywhere I go, I will be representing him on behalf of the joint force."

Man stands in front of national, service flags.
Milley Meeting
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman (SEAC) Ramon "CZ" Colon-Lopez, Dec. 13, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
VIRIN: 191213-D-PB383-007

The general told the SEAC that he should be visible to the force. "To me, being visible is not being behind a podium," he said. "Being visible is getting out there, sweating and embracing the 'suck' with the forces in the most remote of places."

The SEAC needs to get this firsthand look and experience so he can be a better advocate to the chairman on the needs of the joint forces.

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The Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman is a distinct military position and rank within DOD. It also has its own unique insignia.

The chairman has given the SEAC a lot of leeway in accomplishing the tasks he has been given. "When we had the conversation, he also gave me some additional things that he wanted me to get after," Colon-Lopez said. "He didn't tell me how to do it, he just told me what he will expect from me."

Man gives thumbs up to sailors.
Colon-Lopez Greeting
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramon "CZ" Colon-Lopez greets nominees for the Navy 2019 Legalman of the Year as they tour the Pentagon, Jan. 21, 2020.
Photo By: Army Sgt. James K. McCann
VIRIN: 200121-D-SW162-0005

The SEAC has rewritten the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction regarding the roles, responsibilities, authorities and collaboration practices of his office. The new instruction is in the approval process now.

The SEAC is working on the chairman's instruction on several lines of effort. The first line grows from the revision of the instruction. Colon-Lopez will define how the SEAC will build and coordinate among the service and combatant command senior enlisted leaders.
 
Another line of effort is to help develop the officer and enlisted joint force. "General Milley was very clear to say [to] make sure that they have the knowledge, skills and attributes to be able to get after the mission and make sure that they do it with honor," he said.
 
The SEAC will also build relationships — something that is second nature for Colon-Lopez after serving as the senior enlisted leader at U.S. Africa Command in his previous job.

Soldier presents flag to airman.
Milley Meeting
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presents the flag of the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, to SEAC Ramon "CZ" Colon-Lopez during the change of responsibility ceremony at Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Dec. 13, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
VIRIN: 191213-D-PB383-006

The SEAC will look to build relationships with his fellow U.S. senior enlisted leaders and reach out to his counterparts in allied and partner nations around the world. He said he will reach out to these nations and find out what is it that we can do to better bring them into the loop to make sure that we have force multipliers out there.

The SEAC also has a role in joint force readiness. "When it came to readiness the chairman was pretty clear, saying that you need to lead by example," he said. "(Milley told him) readiness starts with you — the way that you carry yourself, the way that you act, the way that you speak to people."

At Milley's direction, the SEAC will work with Air Force Gen. John Hyten to look deep into DOD personnel programs. "(We want to) see what's outdated, what is irrelevant, what doesn't work, and what have the services done to go ahead and mitigate or eliminate those processes," he said.
 
The SEAC will work as part of the team to bring forward new ideas and to communicate across the services to find best practices.

Group of men and women in military uniforms pose in front of an airplane in a hangar.
Group Photo
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez poses with soldiers in front of a Polish C-130 during the annual USO Show earlier this month.
Photo By: Army Sgt. James K. McCann
VIRIN: 200108-D-SW162-2305

 
The SEAC will also continue work on NCO joint professional military education. "I … have a concept that I'm going to pitch to (the National Defense University) in March regarding a Keystone-minus (course) for E-6 and E-7s," he said.

The SEAC is proposing a joint operations module in professional military education to start the conversation about working in a joint environment. Now, this sort of course is presented to senior NCOs and petty officers.
 
"I think that sequential approach allows for any soldier, sailor, airman or Marine to live their formative years in their services learning to be the best tactician or technician in their trades," Colon-Lopez said. "And then by the time they are seasoned E-6s, going into E-7, then they get this joint education to (understand) this is how we all come together."

Finally, the SEAC is dealing with something no senior enlisted leader in the military today has ever dealt with: the creation of a new military service — the U.S. Space Force. Colon-Lopez has coordinated already with Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Roger A. Towberman, U.S. Space Command's senior enlisted leader. The SEAC wants to get a look at what the enlisted space force will look like. "We're talking about structure, we're talking about … accessions, … basic military training, technical training, the culture that we need to create," he said.