The senior noncommissioned officer for the Department of Defense paid a visit to Fort Lee Oct. 23. He roused troops with his candor and passion, and emphasized joint force synergy and readiness to counter a myriad of global threats.
Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, senior enlisted advisor to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, logged a six-hour stay here to observe training and speak with senior leaders among other activities.
It was the first such visit by a sitting SEAC.
Troxell, noting he travels more than 270 days a year, expressed enthusiasm about what he witnessed at the Sustainment Center of Excellence; specifically the diversity of logistics training here that includes all branches of service.
“Coming here to an Army installation where we’re not only training critical skills in combat service support activities, but also seeing our shipmates, wingmen and Devil Dogs makes me proud,” he said to a Lee Theater audience comprised of all military service branches.
The SCoE, overseen by the Combined Arms Support Command, is the third largest advanced individual training element in the Army. It’s three branch schools – Quartermaster, Ordnance and Transportation – along with the Army Logistics University and the Soldier Support Center at Fort Jackson, S.C., provides sustainment instruction for more than 70,000 military members and civilians on an annual basis. The headquarters also develops and integrates sustainment doctrine.
During his speech, Troxell described an operational environment in which near-peer competitors are jockeying for position and continuously exploiting opportunities around the world. He said the U.S. and its allies have responded with a strategy to deter aggression through displays of strength and capability.
“That’s why we put Marines in places like Darwin, Australia … to be a (ground, air and maritime) response force (in the Pacific theater); that’s why we (conduct) force deployments with Army brigade combat teams and Air Force fighter and bomber squadrons around the world. We’re doing a lot of this right now to make sure we show the world we’re still going to defend our interests and way of life,” Troxell said.
To meet the challenges of the future battlefield, the U.S. Armed Forces will need the substance of a lethal and deployable force comprised of “people who are striving for excellence in everything they do, whether they are in combat, combat service or combat service support roles,” the SEAC further observed.
Whatever the capacities of military members, Troxell said training is foundational to readiness. The 37-year Soldier encouraged leaders to be adaptive, innovative and unselfish in sharing their knowledge with troops. To that end, he said the time allotted for physical training is the most opportune to engage personnel.
“That is a leader’s time to get after the most basic thing we need – fit and health-ready troops who can deploy when we call on them to do so,” he said.
Over the past three years, the number of undeployable active and reserve component military members has been reduced from 17 to 10 percent, according to Troxell. It will require individual and concerted efforts to keep the numbers acceptable, he emphasized to the crowd of mostly noncommissioned and petty officers.
“It all starts back to how we get after building the foundation for our men and women,” he said. “Every day, you have to build physical resiliency – not only in yourself – but the men and women you’re responsible for. That’s first and foremost.”
Troxell emphasized the importance of those at the E-5, E-6 and E-7 level “owning the challenges” of those at the E-1 to E-4 levels.
“We cannot settle for substandard performance whether it’s physical, technical or tactical,” he said. “One thing I’ve learned in four years at this job is we live in a complex operational environment where our adversaries are doing things we never thought they could do.”
Troxell cited various examples of threat nations behaving more boldly than ever before and said it is all the more reason to take them seriously.
“I’m telling you the threats are real, so we’ve got to make sure we’re a ready force that could fight and win on any given day,” he said.
Troxell, who rose through the ranks as an armor Soldier, has previously served as the senior enlisted leader for United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea. He became the SEAC under Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., in 2015.
Troxell is scheduled to retire in a few months.