Senior enlisted military advisors call for budget certainty

SGT. LISA SOY/U.S. Army
Budget certainty and investment in service members are important factors in recruiting and retaining the best all-volunteer military, the military’s top enlisted advisors told a congressional panel today.
By LISA FERDINANDO
DOD News, Defense Media Activity
March 16, 2017

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2017 — The military’s senior enlisted members appeared before Congress today to discuss quality of life issues and advocate for budget certainty to maintain military superiority and recruit and retain the best people.

Army Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Dailey, Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Steven S. Giordano, Marine Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, and Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth O. Wright spoke to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.

“If you want to continue to retain and attract quality people under the current end strength of our all-volunteer force, we must continue sustainment efforts, as was the case in last year’s Congress,” Dailey said.

Investments in service members is an investment in readiness and the future of the force, he pointed out. Providing the funding to take care of the service members and their families results in improved readiness, he and the other advisors pointed out.

“Ours is a life of hardship and we must do what we can to manage it in order to keep our sailors focused on their jobs, satisfied with their service and comfortable in knowing their families are stable,” Giordano said.

He said providing sailors the ability to devote their full attention and capabilities to the mission is critical in strengthening the force and ensuring successful execution of the Navy mission.

“Ensuring the sailors and their families are taken care of guarantees the Navy maintains maritime superiority and readiness,” he said.

Funding Needed to Maintain Best Personnel

The military will not be able to recruit and retain the best people if it is not able to offer them much in the way of incentives and improved quality of life, the senior enlisted advisors said.

“The fiscal situation over the past few years, coupled with the drawdown, has caused some of the highest quality Marines to walk away from the Corps with their families,” Green said.

“If you ask me what you can do for us as a Corps today, I would tell you fiscal certainty,” he said.

Wright expressed concerns about proposed changes to compensation, specifically in the form of basic allowance for housing, or BAH, in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

“The regressive nature of the proposed legislation effectively removes BAH as a part of regular military compensation, which could severely limit our ability to recruit and retain our airmen,” he said.

Such a move, Wright said, would reverse nearly 20 years of legislative action that ensured service members were appropriately compensated in line with the private sector.

“While we remain mindful of current budget pressures across the Defense Department, cost savings need to be tempered by the need to retain our talent, which is truly a national asset,” he said.

Facebook Group is Against Corps Values

Green addressed the controversy in which members of a private Facebook group shared explicit photographs of female Marines. Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating, he said.

“We absolutely denounce the actions of any Marine, presently serving, whether active reserve or veteran, that go against our Corps values of honor, courage and commitment,” Green said.

Actions that disrespect fellow Marines hurt the force and its combat effectiveness, he said.

“Such conduct tears away the very fibers of unit cohesion, our families and, most of all, the trust that sustains us on the battlefield and brings us together as a band of brothers and sisters,” Green said.

The Corps strives to ensure its people are treated with dignity and respect, he said, adding, “We’re all part of the solution or the problem.”

The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert B. Neller, said yesterday in a video message to the force that the actions were harmful to other Marines, disrespectful and not reflective of the core values of the service.

“When I hear allegations of Marines denigrating their fellow Marines, I don’t think such behavior is that of true warriors or warfighters,” Neller said, noting the investigation is under way and changes will be made, if needed.

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