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NEWS | Jan. 28, 2015

Battaglia Readies for Enlisted, Counterpart Visit in Asia

By Amaani Lyle DoD News, Defense Media Activity

As the Defense Department’s highest ranking enlisted leader primes for his visit to military installations in the Far East, he stressed the importance of having an “American footprint” there given the United States’ long-standing relationship with Korea and Japan.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Feb. 1-12 schedule includes town halls, unit and organization command visits in the area of responsibility, and engagement at dining facilities and physical training sessions.

Action-packed Itinerary

“All of that will provide opportunities and venues for me to engage, not necessarily to transmit, but to receive,” Battaglia said. “And we have an action-packed itinerary that keeps us on the move.”

The sergeant major emphasized that being a good listener, especially to younger enlisted service members, is a major element of the job.

“You can collect assessments of how things are going for them out there from an operational to an administrative perspective,” Battaglia explained. “Those problems can only get solved if you know about them, and you want to make life better for them tomorrow than it was today.”

As the rebalance to the Pacific continues, Battaglia said he recognizes the plight of junior enlisted, whose first duty station might be in an unfamiliar environment where tension exists, such as between North Korea and South Korea.

“It’s sometimes very challenging for a young service member, regardless of branch, that they walk right into that environment and have to survive and succeed there,” Battaglia said.

Of visiting his counterparts, Battaglia said he’s “no stranger” to the Republic of Korea or Japan, but he acknowledges the virtues of exchanging information with fellow senior enlisted advisors.

“This isn’t only a matter of the United States, or my office or the U.S. [noncommissioned officer] corps,” the sergeant major said. “Displaying how a military should operate doesn’t mean we have all the right answers, so in our quest for self-improvement, there are ideas and practices from those two nations’ militaries we can learn from.”

Exchange and Collaboration

Battagalia said he’d like to explore Korea’s and Japan’s capabilities through avenues such as an exchange program. “Although education takes place in both locations, nothing’s limiting the opportunity for the ROK or Japanese ground self-defense force NCOs and petty officers to have some exchange agreement with the United States military regarding our enlisted, senior enlisted and petty officer academies,” he said.

The sergeant major said he’s also interested in collaborating with his counterparts to tackle daunting issues such as suicide. “The interchanging of dialogue is crucial,” he said. “… For all I know they may be doing something that’s very successful that we haven’t tried, and vice versa.”

Of training matters, the sergeant major said he’d also like to gauge the efficacy of U.S. military involvement with the Japanese self-defense force and the Republic of Korea.

“We train for one thing – and that’s the real deal,” Battaglia said. “Are [Japan and Korea] really feeling the positives about the training and exercises they go through with us as a bilateral nation?”

From a broader perspective, Battaglia also stressed that the United States’ commitment to NATO will remain strong in the Pacific Rim.

“The future I see is bright in the Pacific … but sprinkled with uncertainty, which there is all over the world,” Battaglia said. “Though we’re ready, trained, equipped, and can answer the call because we know the game very well.”

Still, the sergeant major asserts that critical partnership capacity is stable and will continue to grow.

“[Engagement] is a popular and effective technique and capability that we are going to continue to use … and that is not just with Japan and Korea, but other nations throughout the Pacific,” Battaglia said. “We can help them build their capacity and capabilities and should they need to answer the call of their own nation, they can do it much better tomorrow than they [could] yesterday.”

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