The first senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited U.S. Strategic Command Dec. 1 and 2 as part of his tour to take a closer look at the combatant commands’ missions and meet with the unit’s senior enlisted leaders.
During his visit, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Gainey, who assumed his current position Oct. 1, received several briefings from the men and women assigned to USSTRATCOM, 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 USSTRATCOM’s Soldiers’, Sailors’, Airmen’s, Marines’ and civilians’ contributions to the Global War on Terrorism.
“The young men and women of USSTRATCOM are warriors and they need to believe that, because this is what they are,” Gainey said. “The young men and women -- the Private Gainey -- operating at Offutt providing the Gaineys in Iraq or throughout the world the capabilities to use their systems are just as much a warrior as the men and women that are in the war zone. They need to understand and be very proud of that. ”
During the senior enlisted advisor’s speech at USSTRATCOM’s 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 spokesperson to the enlisted force; and being an integrator. As an integrator, Gainey said his job is to integrate solutions into each military service that may have similar problems.
Gainey also said based on his position as the senior enlisted advisor to Marine Gen. Peter Pace, his priorities mimic those of the chairman. His first priority is to strengthen the relationship between the combatant command senior enlisted leaders, the service’s senior enlisted leaders and the Joint Staff, because the working relationship between them has to be solid, because when it's not, it affects the young men and women serving below them. The second is to improve the education of all the joint service members through a joint military education program. His third priority is safety, because all the services are losing too many people to non-combat injuries.
According to Gainey, 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 service members. Priorities one, two and three 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 do something for him. He said he wanted each leader to go and 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 job, and be confident in everything they do.
Gainey also shared his view on what the 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. He also provided more guidance for leaders as well as junior enlisted troops.
“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 Coasties.
“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, Airmen or Coastie … get a PHD in what you do on active duty. ”
The sergeant major 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 USSTRATCOM, the sergeant major called the oldest and youngest service members to the front of the ballroom.
“I do this because it’s about the oldest service member 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. ”