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Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Senior Enlisted Advisor left collar brass insignia (Army only)
Flag of the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman.svg
Flag of the Senior Enlisted Advisor
SEAC Ramón Colón-López, USAF

since December 13, 2019
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Member ofJoint Chiefs of Staff
Reports toChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
AppointerChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Term length4 years
Formation1 October 2005
First holderCSM William Gainey
Salary$9,109.50 per month, regardless of the incumbent's service longevity[1]
WebsiteOfficial Website

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,[2] which runs concurrently with the Chairman, but an incumbent may be reappointed to serve longer.[2] The first member to hold this post was William Gainey (appointed on October 1, 2005). The current SEAC is Ramón Colón-López, USAF; he assumed the duties on December 13, 2019.[2]


Service senior enlisted advisors

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.[3]

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 Heath B. Jones
National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau Tony L. Whitehead, USAF

SEAC history

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.

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. Recently, combatant commands, which are joint duty and contain enlisted members from various services, have created Senior Enlisted Advisor (SEA) positions.

  • 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.


  • U.S. Army SEACs wear a unique collar insignia featuring 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; the collar brass is also worn in place of distinctive unit insignia on his beret, garrison cap, and pull-over sweater, in the same manner as the Sergeant Major of the Army wears unique collar brass.[4] 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.
  • On December 9, 2019 it was announced that current and future SEACs will wear a unique rank insignia featuring an eagle gripping three arrows surrounded by four stars to be incorporated into the service specific E-9 insignias. SgtMaj Bryan Battaglia and CSM William Gainey's tenure preceded this announcement, thus they wore sergeant major and command sergeant major insignia respectively.[5] By the end of 2019 the Army and Air Force were the only two services that had created a rank service insignia. The Institute of Heraldry was tasked in designing the SEAC rank insignias for all the services.[6] The design of a Marine Corps SEAC rank insignia was completed during fiscal year 2020.[7] The design and development of the Navy SEAC rank insignia will be coordinated by the Navy.[7]

Positional color and protocol

  • The Sergeant Major of the Army, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps and the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the JCS Chairman are the only enlisted members of the United States armed forces to be authorized a positional color (flag).[11]
  • The SEAC's positional color is based upon that of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the one of the Sergeant Major of the Army is based on that of the Chief of Staff of the Army. The central element of the color is a rendering of the SEAC collar insignia, less the surrounding disk. 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.
  • 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. In practice, junior commissioned officers are generally deferential to the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, given their long record of service. Akin to the Sergeants Major, Chief Master Sergeants and Master Chief Petty Officers of the various service branches, the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman is granted informal precedence over all lieutenant generals and vice admirals in matters of seating, billeting, parking and transportation.

Pay grade

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.[12]

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).

Chronological list

No. Picture Senior Enlisted Advisor Took office Left office Time in office Defence branch Chairman
1Gainey, WilliamCSM
William Gainey
(born 1956)
October 1, 2005April 25, 20082 years, 207 days United States ArmyPeter Pace
Michael Mullen
2Battaglia, BryanSgtMaj
Bryan B. Battaglia
(born 1961)
October 1, 2011December 11, 20154 years, 71 days United States Marine CorpsMartin Dempsey
3Troxell, JohnSEAC
John W. Troxell
(born 1964)
December 11, 2015December 13, 20194 years, 2 days United States ArmyJoseph Dunford
Mark A. Milley
4Colón-López, RamónSEAC
Ramón Colón-López
(born 1971)
December 13, 2019Incumbent2 years, 287 days United States Air ForceMark A. Milley

See also


  1. ^ The position remained vacant from April 25, 2008, to October 1, 2011.


  1. ^ "Defense Finance and Accounting Service > MilitaryMembers > payentitlements > Pay Tables > Basic Pay > EM".
  2. ^ a b c "Joint Chiefs of Staff > About > The Joint Staff > Senior Enlisted Advisor". Joint Chiefs of Staff. Retrieved 2021-02-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Marine Corps Legacy Museum.
  4. ^ AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia
  5. ^ Myers, Meghann (10 December 2019). "There's a new rank insignia for the military's top enlisted adviser". Sightline Media Group. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  6. ^ Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs. "SEAC Troxell announces new positional rank insignia". Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  7. ^ a b DOD NEWS (10 December 2019). "Military's Top Enlisted Position Now Has Distinctive Rank Insignia". Department of Defense. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  8. ^ "Army Grade Insignia". The Institute of Heraldry. Retrieved 2021-07-08.
  9. ^ "Marine Corps Grade Insignia". The Institute of Heraldry. Retrieved 2021-07-08.
  10. ^ "Air Force Grade Insignia". The Institute of Heraldry. Retrieved 2021-07-08.
  11. ^ "SEAC Heraldry" (PDF). United States Army Institute of Heraldry. 4 November 2005.
  12. ^ "Monthly rates of Basic Pay (Enlisted) – effective January 1, 2020". Defense Financing and Accounting Service. Retrieved March 25, 2020.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 18 July 2022, at 23:14
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