|Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff|
|Joint Chiefs of Staff|
|Member of||Joint Chiefs of Staff|
|Reports to||Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff|
|Appointer||Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff|
|Term length||4 years|
|Formation||1 October 2005|
|First holder||CSM William Gainey|
|Salary||$9,109.50 per month, regardless of the incumbent's service longevity|
The senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (SEAC) is the most senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) position overall in the United States Armed Forces. The SEAC is appointed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to serve as a spokesperson to address the issues of enlisted personnel to the highest positions in the Department of Defense. As such, the SEAC is the senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and serves at the pleasure of the secretary of defense. The SEAC's exact duties vary, depending on the Chairman, though he generally devotes much time traveling throughout the Department of Defense observing training and communicating to service members and their families. The normal tour of assignment is two years, which runs concurrently with the Chairman, but an incumbent may be reappointed to serve longer. The first member to hold this post was William Gainey. The current SEAC is Ramón Colón-López, USAF; he assumed the duties on December 13, 2019.
Although Army and Marine headquarters from battalions and regiments, up to divisions, to corps, army headquarters and higher, have traditionally each had a sergeant major; and Navy and Coast Guard vessels have traditionally each had a Command Master Chief or chief of the boat; the services' national headquarters generally had no counterpart position. The Marine Corps was the exception, having a Sergeant Major from 1801 until 1946, and a Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps from 23 May 1957 onwards, as the senior enlisted advisor to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
The other services followed during the Vietnam War, creating the counterpart positions of Sergeant Major of the Army in 1966, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force in 1967, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard in 1969. The National Guard established its own equivalent position, Senior Enlisted Advisor for the National Guard Bureau, in 2003. The chief master sergeant of the Space Force was established in 2020. The positions are generically or collectively referred to as "senior enlisted advisors" ("SEAs"). Only one soldier, sailor, marine, airman, Space Force guardian, or coast guardsman can hold that rank at any one time; moreover, the position's singularity is not deemed to prevent the technical overlap of a few weeks while a recently "retired" SEA remains legally on active duty for the duration of his accrued back-leave, known as "transitional leave"). Each advises his or her service chief (Chief of Staff of the Army, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Chief of Naval Operations, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Chief of Space Operations, and Commandant of the Coast Guard) and other senior service leaders on all enlisted matters, makes decisions affecting enlisted personnel and their families, and is often invited to testify before Congress.
|Service||Senior enlisted advisor title||Incumbent|
|Joint Chiefs of Staff||Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman||Ramón Colón-López, USAF|
|U.S. Army||Sergeant Major of the Army||Michael A. Grinston|
|U.S. Marine Corps||Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps||Troy E. Black|
|U.S. Navy||Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy||Russell L. Smith|
|U.S. Air Force||Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force||JoAnne S. Bass|
|U.S. Space Force||Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force||Roger A. Towberman|
|U.S. Coast Guard||Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard||Jason M. Vanderhaden|
|National Guard||Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau||Tony L. Whitehead, USAF|
The position of Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman was created in 2005 under General Peter Pace. The newly created position was established to advise the Chairman on all matters involving enlisted personnel in a joint environment. General Peter Pace selected Army Command Sergeant Major William Gainey to serve as the first Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman ("SEAC"), beginning October 1, 2005. Gainey had more than 30 years of active-duty experience including an extensive background in joint operations. He had most recently served as the command sergeant major of III Corps and Fort Hood, Texas, from May 9, 2003 until September 30, 2005. He served as Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman until he retired on April 25, 2008.
When Admiral Michael Mullen became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he consulted the SEAs of the services and opted not to appoint an SEA in his own office. His office's press release stated that this was not a reflection on General Pace, merely that he did not feel the office was required. The position was reinstated in 2011 by Mullen's successor, General Martin Dempsey.
General Dempsey selected United States Marine Corps Sergeant Major Bryan B. Battaglia to serve as the 2nd Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. He took his post on October 1, 2011. Battaglia had more than 36 years of service at all levels including multiple combat deployments and senior enlisted assignments. He served as Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman until December 11, 2015.
General Joseph Dunford selected United States Army CSM John W. Troxell to serve as the 3rd Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman. Troxell took his post on October 11, 2015, and served until December 13, 2019.
The SEAC has oversight in any area that the Chairman assigns him. The SEAC is the spokesman of the Chairman to all services' SEAs. The SEAC, in some cases, is the spokesman for all enlisted members of the services and combatant commands during meetings with leaders from the services, civilian community, and service leaders of other nations. The SEAC is not in the direct chain of command of the services' nor combatant commands' SEAs; however, he is in the NCO communication chain. The SEAC is the Chairman's link to and/or from the services' and combatant commands' SEAs. During visits to areas of operation, the SEAC identifies issues and problems that might affect the services as a whole. When a problem is identified, he works with the services to find a common solution and help integrate, if possible, the solution into all of the services. Recently, combatant commands, which are joint duty and contain enlisted members from various services, have created Senior Enlisted Advisor (SEA) positions.
The Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman and the other seven SEAs hold pay grade E-9, as all sergeants major and command sergeants major, Command Master Chief Petty Officers and Command Chief Master Sergeants; however, in accordance with 37 U.S.C. § 1009, Schedule 8, their base pay is $9,109.50 per month ($109,314.00 per year), regardless of the incumbent's service longevity. For comparison, any other E-9, even with the maximum 40 years of service, would receive $8,752.50 per month.
In addition to base pay and normal tax-free allowances, the SEAC and the other SEAs are each entitled to a special tax-free allowance of $2,000 per year, in accordance with 37 U.S.C. § 414(c).
|No.||Picture||Senior Enlisted Advisor||Took office||Left office||Time in office||Defence branch||Chairman|
|October 1, 2005||April 25, 2008||2 years, 207 days||United States Army||Peter Pace|
Bryan B. Battaglia
|October 1, 2011||December 11, 2015||4 years, 71 days||United States Marine Corps||Martin Dempsey|
John W. Troxell
|December 11, 2015||December 13, 2019||4 years, 2 days||United States Army||Joseph Dunford|
Mark A. Milley
|December 13, 2019||Incumbent||1 year, 296 days||United States Air Force||Mark A. Milley|