The Army and Air National Guard’s senior enlisted leaders met at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center in East Tennessee this week in a Joint Enlisted Advisory Council (JEAC), as well as within their component groups, to coordinate their efforts for enlisted Guard members.
The most representative joint gathering to date included about 90 sergeant majors, command sergeant majors, chief master sergeants, command chiefs and senior enlisted advisors from the states and territories, said Army Sgt. Maj. Michael Miller, the JEAC’s Army National Guard coordinator from the Utah National Guard.
“The appetite is there to give the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and the [Army and Air National Guard] Directors an enlisted perspective at the joint level on what issues our Soldiers and Airmen need to be taken care of to be ready for tomorrow,” said Miller.
The Army National Guard manages a Command Sergeant Major Advisory Council (CSMAC) to track and voice enlisted issues for Soldiers. The Air National Guard holds an Enlisted Field Advisory Council (EFAC) for its enlisted Airmen. Both councils co-located their regular meetings at TEC to conduct a joint forum on the National Guard’s enlisted force.
“That’s what it is all about: how do we eliminate obstacles together for our Soldiers and Airmen to be successful,” said Miller.
Sergeant Major Miller said that the discussion is priceless. They even extended their break times to allow for good hallway networking. The relations built from the event and in other mechanisms ensures the National Guard’s preparedness in their state support and with national defense contingencies, said Miller.
“We’re building these relationships outside of our state walls, outside of our service walls,” said Miller. “We’re National Guardsmen, so it does not matter if you are a command chief or a command sergeant major, you’re a leader in the National Guard, second to none.”
TEC’s Commander, Col. Kevin Donovan, welcomed them to the campus. The Center’s Senior Enlisted Advisor and Commandant, Chief Master Sgt. Edward Walden Sr., also welcomed “his peers” as well as highlighted how TEC “works tirelessly to create a quality learning environment for enlisted professional military education and TEC as a whole.”
Chief Walden said that part of the message communicated was the concept of the command team.
“Our senior enlisted are working with our commanders to deliver the enlisted perspective,” said Walden.
Key speakers included the Director of the Air National Guard, Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, as well as the Air National Guard Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Ron Anderson.
“You can probably think of about 100 issues out there that bridge the gap between us,” said Anderson, who asked the council to vet the important ones – those that affect readiness, degrade the mission or hurt Guard members and their families – which have a joint value to address and approach.
“[Army National Guard] Command Sergeant Major [Christopher] Kepner and I have a very clear vision of what we need from this body before we take it to the next Senior Enlisted Leader of the National Guard,” said Anderson.
The Air National Guard’s EFAC Chairman helped explain that coordination.
“So, we have these two councils that talk about enlisted issues and a lot of times we are talking about the same issues,” said Chief Master Sgt. James L. Brown, EFAC chairman and the state command chief for the Kansas National Guard.
Chief Brown used the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits as an example of when matters that affect both Soldiers and Airmen come up in the Army and Air National Guard. “Sometimes we go different directions but with the end means being the same,” said Brown. Joining limits a duplication of efforts as well as better informs the Chief of the National Guard Bureau.
“A lot of us do not even know each other because we rarely have the opportunity to come together like this,” said Brown. “This is monumental. It’s for the enlisted leadership and our National Guard.”