Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman


Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman

Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman is a military position within the United States Department of Defense and is the most senior noncommissioned officer overall in the United States armed forces.

History of SEAs

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. [Marine Corps Legacy Museum.]

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 & Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force in 1967, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard in 1969. The positions are generically or collectively referred to as "senior enlisted advisors" ("SEAs"). Only one soldier, Marine, sailor, airman and Coast Guardsman can hold that rank at any one time (although they also hold the rank upon retirement per 10 USC § 1406(i)(1))). Each advises his or her service chief (Commandant of the Marine Corps, Chief of Staff of the Army, Chief of Naval Operations, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, 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.

First SEA to the Chairman

It is with some historical poetry that the position of Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman was created under General Peter Pace, the first Marine to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Pace selected Command Sergeant Major William J. Gainey to serve as the first Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman ("SEAC"), beginning 1 October 2005. The newly created position was established to advise the Chairman on all matters involving enlisted personnel in a joint environment. 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 9 May 2003 until 30 September 2005. He served as Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman until he retired on 25 April 2008.

Roles and Responsibilities

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.

* The SEAC is an advisor to the Chairman on all matters concerning joint and combined total force integration, utilization, and development. Additionally, the SEAC helps develop NCO-related joint professional education, enhance utilisation of senior NCOs on joint battle staffs, and support the Chairman’s responsibilities as directed.

* In carrying out the functions, roles, duties, and responsibilities, the SEAC, as appropriate, consults with and seek the advice of the services' and combatant commands' SEAs on all issues pertaining to joint service members.

* The SEAC convenes regular meetings with the services' and combatant commands' SEAs.

Insignia

* The SEAC's unique collar insignia features the shield portion of the insignia of an aide-de-camp to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs (less the surmounting eagle), placed upon a gold-colored Army enlisted collar disk, one inch in diameter. This insignia is in keeping with the collar devices of U.S. Army enlisted soldiers, and is patterned directly upon that of the Sergeant Major of the Army. Because the only SEAC thus far has been a soldier, it remains to be seen if this insignia, or variations of it, will be worn by future SEACs from other services.

* Although the Army approved the Joint Chiefs of Staff's request for unique collar insignia for the SEAC on 20 December 2005, the same memorandum rejected unique rank insignia. [Army Planner Colonel James J. Spinnel, in the Assistant Deputy to the Army Operations Deputy (Joint Affairs), to the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Staff, 20 Dec. 2005.] Consequently, while the SEAC is considered the senior enlisted member of the U.S. military, the individual services' senior enlisted advisors wear superior rank "insignia" and have superior rank "titles"/"acronyms". However, given that the only SEAC thus far has been a soldier, it remains to be seen if the other services will authorise unique rank (or a duplication of their respective SEAs' rank) when the SEAC is a sailor, Marine, Coast Guardsman or airman.

Positional Color and Protocol

* The Sergeant Major of the Army and the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the JCS Chairman are the only members of the United States armed forces, below the rank of brigadier general/rear admiral, lower half to be authorised a positional color (flag). [cite web |url=http://www.ncohistory.com/files/Feb08/SEAC-heraldry.pdf |title=SEAC Heraldry |format=PDF |publisher=United States Army Institute of Heraldry |date=4 November 2005]

* The SEAC's positional color is based upon those of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Sergeant Major of the Army. The central element of the color is a rendering of the SEAC collar insignia, less the surrounding disk, with the eagle shown in proper colors (rather than simply gold as on the collar insignia). The diagonal line separating the blue in the upper right from the white in the lower left is continued to the corners of the flag.

* The SEA to the Chairman holds a VIP status ahead of all service SEAs who themselves are ahead of all 3-star/flag officers. [cite web |url=http://www.jmarprotocol.com/helpfiles/Consolidated%20Precedence%20List.pdf |title=Consolidated DoD/Army/Air Force Precedence List |format=PDF |date=February 9, 2006 |quote=Code 4-12] Despite the unique duties and protocol position of this position, the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman remains a non-commissioned officer and, as such, is obliged to render salute to all commissioned officers and warrant officers.

Pay Grade

* The Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman and the other five SEAs nominally hold pay grade E-9, like all sergeants major, master chief petty officers, and chief master sergeants; however, in accordance with 37 U.S.C. § 1009, Schedule 10, each SEA's base pay is US$6,875.10 per month (US$82,501.20 per annum), as of 2008, irresepective of the incumbent's service longevity. By comparison, a typical E-9, even with the maximum forty years of service (retirement at at or about the 30-year mark is the norm), would be paid US$6,605.40 per month. [http://www.navycs.com/08militarypaychart.html 2008 Basic Military Pay Charts] ]
* In addition to his base pay and normal tax-free allowances, the SEAC and the other SEAs are each entitled to a special tax-free allowance of US$2,000.00 per annum, in accordance with 37 U.S.C. § 414(c).

See also

* Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
* Sergeant Major of the Army
* Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
* Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
* Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force

References

* [http://www.jcs.mil/seac/senior_enlisted_resp.html Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman (SEAC) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - Functions, Duties, Roles and Responsibilities]
* [http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=18079 Senior Enlisted Advisor Explains Duties, Philosophies]
* [http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=16794 Pace Selects Army Tanker as First JCS Senior Enlisted Adviser.]


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