#098: The United States Marine Corps – Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps Troy Black

Wednesday May 03, 2023

For 247 years the United States Marine Corps has fought and won America’s wars. The Marines carry a history, a tradition and a brand focused on winning…no matter the challenge. Sergeant Major Troy Black, the 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps joins Fran Racioppi from the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot San Diego Museum for a Jedburgh Podcast exclusive look at what it means to be a Marine past, present and future. 

They cover Sergeant Major Black’s 35-year career leading Marines, Talent Management 2030, Force Design 2030, the lessons of the Global War on Terror, and the Marines’ most important mission; returning high-caliber Veterans to America’s civilian workforce. 

Whether you were a Marine, want to become a Marine, or never considered the Marines, you will be ready to join after this conversation!

Learn more about SMMC Troy Black at and on social media at @19thsmmc. Subscribe to us and follow @jedburghpodcast on all social media. Watch the full video version on YouTube.

Special thanks to the San Diego Military Advisory Council for their support in producing this episode.  

Listen to the podcast here


The United States Marine Corps – Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps Troy Black

Sergeant Major, welcome to the Jedburgh Podcast.

I appreciate it. Thank you very much for the invitation.

You are the 19th Sergeant Major of the United States Marine Corps. Not bad for an organization that’s 247 years old.TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

Not me, although I feel it sometimes. Can I make a comment there real quick? Serious and jokingly, I get asked, and we may get into it, “What does it take to be the Army Major of the Marine Corps?” First of all, it starts with being able to count by multiple fours because it’s a four-year job and you can replace somebody every four years unless you get fired. No one has yet. Knock on wood. The other thing is my wife is a retired Marine, and we’re going to talk a little bit about that aspect at the moment.

Three years and some change into this, 1) We look at each other every day and we’re like, “How did this happen? 2) Can you believe it?” It’s truly a blessing. All of us have military careers, whether they’re long or short, but we’re successful. Nothing is by accident, but there’s a lot of chance involved in it. It’s a blessing every day to sit here and have somebody say, “19th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.” It’s humbling.

There’s a lot of hard work in there, too, Sergeant Major.

There’s a lot of opportunity. We’ll say that.

It’s an honor to be here with you. It’s an honor to be here in the museum at the Recruiting Depot in San Diego. I want to give a special shout-out to Museum Director Joanie Schwartz-Wetter for setting this whole thing up, bringing us in here, and giving us this absolutely tremendously amazing backdrop. The pictures on these walls are meaningful not only to all of us who’ve served but personally to you as you walked me through some of it.

It’s pretty cool. We’ll talk about the Marine Corps, where it’s been, and where it’s going. We can start in the hallway and walk this way. We can start and continue to add wings to it. That’s the future of all the services, but the Marine Corps, we’ll talk about in a moment. It’s phenomenal to be here.

Let’s talk about where it started. It was April 1988 for you. It started at Parris Island, South Carolina. I heard it’s real nice over there. I spent my time in that part of the woods at Fort Bragg. Why join the Marine Corps in the first place?TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

My story is not surprising, to be frank with you. I’m a product of 1969. I grew up in the ‘70s. I remember Saigon. I ran a hostage crisis. I remember all that stuff growing up. It’s not a popular time to be in the military. All volunteer force was a new thing. When I was a young kid in the ‘80s, the world changed. We had an administration, not a political statement, that focused our nation on ourselves, independence, freedom, and patriotism. Be American and by American created a lot of patriotism in my generation. It truly did. The Soviet Union was still a thing. I went to college for a year before the Marine Corps and majored in Russian because it was a thing.

My core language in SF was Russian. I never used it because I went to all Arabic-speaking countries.

The funny joke is I didn’t either because by the time I joined the Marine Corps and had been in for a year or two, that ended, but the motivation to be in the Marine Corps for me comes from high school. I was in Marine ROTC. I got a great mentor that showed me not what it was to be a Marine. That’s not what ROTC is about. It’s how important it is to serve your nation. That’s why I went to bootcamp to serve my nation.

The Marine Corps is an absolutely unique organization when we talk about the Armed services. The Marine Corps does as core competencies, land, sea, and air. We have the Air Force focused on the air. The Army has some components of that, but not necessarily as core competencies like the Marines do. I’m going to read the mission of the Marine Corps.

I know you know it, but the Marine Corps shall be organized, trained, and equipped to provide fleet Marine forces of combined arms together with supporting air components for service with the fleet in the seizure and defensive advanced naval bases and for the conduct of such land operations as may be essential to the prosecution of a naval campaign. What is so important about the range of these core competencies for the Marine Corps that differentiates it from every other service branch?

Obviously, I’m a Marine, so I have a bit of bias. Strategically, that bias is valid. Here’s what I mean by that. The words mean things. It is the Marine Corps that is equipped now for deployment with the capabilities it needs to be the first on the scene. It’s the enabler of the joint force. If we were to add words to that definition, it would be in order to enable the joint force to conduct further operations. That’s how I would add something to the back of that. To do that, rather than have to put together the joint staff, the task, and the services to get the COCOMs to start to allocate forces to take an action, send the Marine Corps.

TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

“Send the Marine Corps. We come with our own logistics, our own aviation, our own artillery, our own ground forces and components to do things now.”

We come with our own logistics, aviation, artillery, ground forces, and components to do things now to set conditions whatever that situation may be. Whether it’s humanitarian, actual war-fighting, the whole spectrum, or the range of military operations, it’s one package. Then set conditions for the rest of the following forces if need be to take care of the rest of the problem and continue to move in accomplishing the mission. The Marine Corps is unique in that. We’re man training and equipment funded to do it. No other service is to that level.

The differentiation of things that the Marines do is also important here. You hit on humanitarian support that they give all across the world. You’re talking about protecting embassies worldwide. Not only is it a combat force first in so many places, but there are all of these other missions that they have all over the world that people don’t even think about.

In particular, you’re familiar with the Marine Expeditionary Unit. That unit afloat by, with, and through the Navy from the sea on those naval amphibious vessels or elk-class ships which are vital to our national security and the Marine Corps. That Marine Expeditionary Unit is literally trained in every single mission that there is across the range of military operations from aviation deep strike, facilitation of special operation forces, and humanitarian assistance and medical capabilities. It’s embassy reinforcement and full-on amphibious assault. It’s the entire board. That’s the package that you get with that Marine Expeditionary Unit. That is unique to the services within the capacity that it has. It set conditions for follow-on forces is what the Marine Corps is designed to do.

There’s a perspective that a lot of people have about the military. For service members, people come in, serve, sit back, and wait to be told what to do. A lot of time, we wait to be told what to do. That’s not the reality. It’s the conversation I had with Colonel Stephen Battle, who’s part of the US Army Recruiting Command. We dug into this. The reality is that the military, especially now, as we look and we’ll talk about the next battlefield and what we’re facing, we need thought leaders. We don’t just need thought leaders at the Sergeant Major level and the General Officer level. We need thought leaders across the entire rank structure to the very bottom people. The military is bringing in, in all branches, scientists, scholars, and doctors.

Oftentimes, they’re bringing right off-the-street direct commission programs and all of them. A lot of effort is going into the development and education of soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers as they progress through the ranks. We’ve all gone to Professional Military Education schools. Many of our senior leaders have advanced degrees that they’ve earned while in service.

You’ve been a strong advocate for changes to the talent management process. You’ve called for enhanced development. Also, more transparency, flexibility, and control over assignments. There are challenges in all of those things to execute. The Marine Corps has embarked on what they’re calling Talent Management 2030 and the need to mature the force. Can you talk about Talent Management 2030, why is it imperative to the future of the Marines, and what Mature The Force means?TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

Let me build up with a couple of quick sound bites. For anybody that thinks anyone in uniform is sitting around waiting for something to happen, they probably have never worn a uniform. It’s like this for anybody who has a football analogy. If I’m a professional football player, I take a few months off. I come and start practicing. I build up to the season. I play during the season and have a Super Bowl. Everyone in uniform is practicing for the Super Bowl. There’s no season. Every single day is full pads, full contact practice waiting for the Super Bowl because every time we employ the military, our force, whether it’s in combat or the range of operations, that’s got to be successful at that moment.

[bctt tweet=”For anybody that thinks anyone in uniform is sitting around waiting for something to happen, they probably have never worn a uniform.” via=”no”]

It’s not like, “Do it 3 or 4 times while you’re doing it and eventually getting into the playoffs.” It’s every day. There’s no off-season. It’s training, so it’s very busy. With that, you have to have a competent force that when it has to be called upon can win. Here’s my bias in the Marine Corps. It’s pretty good history. Break glass in case of war is generally how the Marine Corps gets employed. Right behind us was a saying, “If it’s on the camera, no better friend, no worse enemy with that individual.” General Mattis, now retired, was the Secretary of Defense. When 9/11 kicked off, we put two expeditionary units together that were out training. They were out doing normal missions. We flew them the longest amphibious raid in history, several hundred miles into Kandahar, and took the airport that fast.

TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

“You have to have a competent force that when it has to be called upon, can win…period.”

How do you get leadership that can do that? Training and education, one. Training, mostly education, absolutely. For advances in equipment and capabilities, we will always see that. It’s the leaders that have to execute those missions that have to be able to lead Marines, each other, units, and organizations, and plan and execute those types of missions on a moment’s notice. That’s what all the services do. For us in the Marine Corps, I would venture to say that most of the things we talk about in talent management aren’t new ideas. There are things we’ve talked about for years.

Now we’re sitting back and have a bit of an opportunity loosely in this inter-war period we have and make the adjustments necessary that we need to that focuses on the population of individuals who are serving and are propensed to serve now. There’s always generational change. Every service changes from generation to generation. We’re at that point now to make some of these changes. Why? They talk often about lessons and get asked often about lessons learned in Ukraine and Russia. The one we can put a pretty good finger on is that the NCOs in the Ukrainian Army, the defense forces that have been trained by American Forces since the Crimea, are outmaneuvering, outthinking, outplanning, and outfighting their adversary generals.

I’ll be biased again to the Marine Corps. What we say often in the Marine Corps is, “The NCOs are the backbone of our core.” The fact of the matter is there are only so many lieutenants in any combat operation, especially in the future, it ultimately is the NCO that ends up taking the hill outmaneuvering, outthinking, and taking the bias for action. That’s how we train our Marines to lead. The private that graduated now is not taught to follow. They’re taught to lead. They get evaluated on leadership from the beginning, make a decision, go left, go right, open the left side of the door, take the trash out, make a decision, do that. It’s the very simple things that end up allowing to have leaders. They can outthink enemy generals.

TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

“The private that graduated today is not taught to follow. They’re taught to lead.”

I’ve never heard it phrased this way, and I’m thinking about my days at basic training where you never sit in a class and they say, “Now we’re going to teach you how to follow. Everything you are ever taught is how to become a leader from day one.”

Everything we do reinforces that. You know your own military experience. It’s as simple as this. In the perfect military scenario, it is life or death situation. There is ultimately only one or the other. In that situation, it’s your ability to make decisive, well-thought, biased decisions, not even bias for the biases to do something and take action. The most junior leaders in our Marine Corps can do that. At the level with which they’ll be responsible for doing so, they can make that decision. In most cases, they can make those decisions at a level that we don’t often think they can. That’s a maturity issue. I can dive into the maturity piece really quickly. It’s pretty simple. There’s a difference between what you want and what reality is.

[bctt tweet=”There’s a difference between what you want and what reality is. ” via=”no”]

What we want is to have a more mature force. The reality is we’ve always wanted to have a more mature force. It’s a retention conversation. Do you keep more corporals and captains than you bring in lieutenants and privates? Anybody would tell you it’s better to keep more of the latter than the former or the former than the latter. Now we’re in a position where we’re focusing on changing our model of how we recruit and retain to be able to facilitate that, meaning increasing the number of Marines that we desire to retain is mature. Maturity comes through experience. It’s a time factor. It’s better to keep corporals than to bring in a private. That’s Maturing The Force.

What can you do with advanced education? What can you do with repetition? What can you do with gained experience? The more you have of that in retraining, you gain more experience. It is a quantity of human capital of leaders that when the war breaks out, you are starting at a place of learning or things that have been learned and experienced that you don’t have time to develop. You already have that. That’s a mature force. Lastly, and this is a transition we’ll get into, the complexity of warfare is always modern tomorrow. This museum is full of flint locks. Haven’t used one in several hundred years, I don’t think.

The point being is the advance in technology is one thing, but the complexity of warfare does not get less, land, sea, and air. Now it’s 3 or 4 more domains. It’s all of these things. That complexity requires a more mature individual as well. You would understand this phraseology as much as anybody else, reps and sets, education, retraining, training advanced skills, and training and retention of that experience. That’s how you’re successful on September 12th. On day one, success. It’s Super Bowl tomorrow. It’s not pre-season games.

You talked about the development of non-commissioned officers and the development of the officer Corps in how you phrased it there. I think about what I call effective intelligence. We talk a lot of it in the show. One of the major premises of the show is these nine characteristics that special operations command uses to assess and develop talent. One of them is being effective intelligence, which is something that comes from having more experiences because then those experiences shape you. They shape your thinking and ability to make decisions in the future based on your past experiences. That becomes critical, especially when you have mid-level leaders who can develop junior leaders.

I want to talk for a second about the non-commissioned officer structure versus the commissioned officer structure. I believe that in building effective organizations, it is a model that the civilian world could implement. I have a company that I started a couple of years ago. We’re currently filled with all Green Berets. I’ve hired the best non-commissioned officers that I served with to come work with me because they understand how to get things done.

This model I believe is so important because some of the best mentors that I had as a young officer were actually not the commissioned officers that I served with. They were the non-commissioned officers. They were the ones who were willing to quickly put me in my place, but also coach, teach, and mentor me. Can you talk for a few minutes about the importance of that structure? How does the non-commissioned officer core complement the officer core and why that structure works in effective organizations?

Let me talk specifically in terms of the Marine Corps to explain to the Marine audience. When you say NCO, for you and your experience coming from the Army, that means anything up to E9. You speak in those terms. Ours, we have NCOs, corporals, sergeants, E45s, and then we have staff non-commissioned officers.

We’re not going to talk about warrant officers because we don’t know what they do in any service.

I can’t say that to my gunner friends. We’re talking about levels of responsibility. When you’re talking about the relationship between officers and enlisted, let me pause there because that’s where I think we can see the importance of both. I’m enlisted, and you’re an officer. Some can say, “Here comes another freaking officer again.” You can say, “All these freaking enlisted people.” That is the very edges of the far and left-right mentalities of folks that are in those environments. Here’s the fact. Let me talk to Marine Corps, but you’ll understand it from our perspective. I get to talk to the basic school. That’s where every lieutenant before they were going into their MOS and learn what their MOS skill is going to be, they all go to our basic school.TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

As a Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, I didn’t know I was going to be able to talk to all the lieutenants. This is a good time for me, but what I focus on is, in the perfect structure in the Marine Corps, a brand new lieutenant reports to their first unit and they’re waiting for them. It is an 8 to 10-year seasoned E6 staff sergeant non-commissioned officer who is there for one purpose only. With all the academic experience and all of the rotten knowledge and the authorities invest in you in Title 10 as an officer, I, as a staff non-commissioned officer am here to give you experience that you don’t have, a perspective in time.

My experience, training, and education have come from the ranks of those you’re going to lead to where I sit now, I can offer you time that you have not spent yet and give you balance to all of your authority. Together, the decisions we made are more right than wrong. It’s the 80% who take action who have bias. To your point, the reason you hire those guys, they don’t need a 100% answer. They have lived in a world of, “We’re going North, not Northeast by Northeast. We’re heading North and we’ll figure out the last 10% bias for action move.” That’s what the staff NCO gives to the junior officer. That does not change as you progress.

Even at the level that I’m at right now, the common number of the Marine Corps does not need a lot of advice. He needs perspective. That perspective comes from someone who’s served for 35 years, less than he has, in different environments. Coming from a private to now, we can talk a lot about things that he’s never experienced nor his officers or general officers have experienced. It’s not because they’re bad. That’s not the point. The point is its perspectives and better decision-making cycles. That ultimately is what you get with that relationship. When we fight, you want better decisions and a balanced approach.

Three of the most influential people in my entire career were my Platoon Sergeant, Sergeant First Class David Kozak, my Team Sergeant as a Green Beret Master Sergeant Rudy Russell, and Command Sergeant Major Dave Gibbs in South Africa. Hands down.

We have a saying, and I know it holds true for every service. If you meet a bad captain or major, probably their first staff sergeant could have been of better quality. We know if we find a bad officer, we’ve taken it upon our shoulders. We probably messed that up. Very rarely where you find an officer, especially the senior grades that don’t click so well if they are unlisted, that’s usually not their problem. It’s an experience they had very early on in their career. To your point, your first platoon sergeant had more influence over you than anybody.

I sat down with him when I first got there. He had been in Desert Storm. This was in 2005. I sit there and have him say, “You’re the new lieutenant so you’re nervous and you’re sitting down.” “Tell me about your career.” He is like, “I served in the invasion in Desert Storm.” I immediately was like, “Shut your mouth. Listen to this guy. He knows what he’s talking about.”

We’ve got more to talk about and not to drag this out. It comes with a balance. Some could take that and go, “We’re in charge of the officers.” It’s absolutely not the case. I like to say this. My responsibility isn’t to make the decisions for the officer. It’s to ensure that they make good decisions. Ultimately, if an officer is going to make a decision and it is moral, ethical, safe, just, and professional, I may not agree with it, but they’re in command. If it is immoral, unsafe, unjust, and unprofessional, we should have a further discussion. I’m there to provide that balance because the bias sometimes comes with mistakes that aren’t malicious and it’s not known. My experience should be balancing that out. Otherwise, “Aye, aye, sir. Let’s move.”TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

Let’s talk about integration for a minute. Let’s talk about the integration of females into the Marine Corps or in the Combat Arms. You mentioned that your wife was a Marine. I had an opportunity down at CrossFit Competition Wodapalooza in Miami to sit down with a female named Shaylin Laure, a phenomenal athlete. She was an officer in the Army Infantry. She was the first female to win the Honor Graduate at the Basic Infantry Officer course on the single standard between men and women. Now she’s an FBI agent and she won the competition down there. It was truly amazing. How has the integration of females into Combat Arms like Infantry advanced the Marines and changed the dynamics in the organization?

She’s speaking my language. I’m an infantryman by trade. Here’s what I would offer. The first integration, for those who don’t know the time before integration, don’t know what we’re talking about. San Diego is a perfect place to have this conversation. The first female recruits graduated from this depot a few years ago. In about 2 or 3 more years, there were going to be drill instructors, females, who were recruits that don’t know what Parris Island even is where we have traditionally trained females since we’ve had a recruit trained that was specifically designed for females. Time has already passed us. The old core is with us.

In 2 or 3 years, they’re not going to know what we’re talking about as far as females being trained at San Diego. That’s the integration. We’ve had male-only recruit training for 100 years because we’re good with what we’re doing. Not intentional actually, but there’s no history of that in a couple of years. Out in the operating forces, the formerly closed MOS. I spoke to an Artillery Marine that was formerly a closed MOS. She’s a sergeant and a drill instructor in the school. She must be doing pretty good. I’m assuming she’s a good artilleryman. I’m assuming that, otherwise she wouldn’t be a sergeant. Sometimes there’s an expectation of mass. There’s no expectation of mass by gender anywhere. Either you can do and perform or you can’t.

My wife has the best quote, and I will use her quote in this case. My wife’s point about opportunity is this, “Don’t ever deny me an opportunity. You don’t get to determine whether I can do it or not, but once you give me the opportunity, I 100% own whether or not I can or can’t. You can’t determine that.” The more people that realize, opportunity is the harder part of that decision You mentioned this infantry officer from the Army. Had she not been given the opportunity, we would not have known she could. She wouldn’t have known she could. We were probably trying to think about why she couldn’t. Let people figure it out. We’re past that, frankly.

TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

“Don’t ever deny me an opportunity.
You don’t get to determine if I can do it or not.”

We’re entering a new era for the country in National Defense for the military. We have spent many years. We were in declared combat. We can argue all day long about what we face now on the horizon. Everything changed in that period of time like equipment change, people change, and process change. We learned so much from the different operating environments that we were in, which change how we think about war in many cases. The culture of entire organizations has changed. When you look back on the years when we were in these declared combats, what are the major lessons that you take away from the Marine Corps? That’s another dissertation.

Being humorous, there’s one thing you can be guaranteed at. There’s going to be a change. Think about when I joined the Marine Corps. For someone that’s in my generation, there was still the Soviet Union. Although we could say the Soviet Union may have been failing at that time, there was no idea within three years that I joined the Marine Corps that the Soviet Union would dissolve. We had built an entire joint force, gold, water, and nickels, to be able to fight jointly across Europe and to fold the gap and defend. It was attrition, methodical warfare. I have a bias toward the Marine Corps. We invented this thing called Maneuver Warfare, which was invented in World War II. I don’t think so much of the nature of warfare changes. Character does.

We’re in a pretty unique time right now. Whereas before, we weren’t talking so much about low-intensity conflict and counterinsurgency in Vietnam. We lived through it. The doctrine was still focused on nation-state fighting, a superpower versus a superpower. We’re back there again. We can determine whether or not we will ever go manner. We manner with the 4 plus 1s of the world and strategy. The fact of the manner is we have to be able to compete and win if that occurs. We are not fighting the Taliban or Baptist extremists now because they didn’t have 24-hour persistent ISR satellites, cyber capabilities, submarines, or nuclear weapons. It’s a different dynamic, a national government that had elements of national power over the employee.

Combat is combat. Getting shot at is getting shot at. The scope and scale are different. Therefore, the services that we’ve developed in our capabilities are contributory. Look at the weapon systems we have now. Systems being used to fight counterinsurgency are the number one weapons of choice in Russia and Ukraine, like long-range precision fires. It’s not a product of superpower war. That’s a product of counterinsurgency because ROEs demanded precision in fires. Now we can target things, not areas.

That’s a product. That’s helpful. We have to appreciate how the adversary’s capabilities. This is where I think all the services are moving to modernization. Marine Corps love it. We are smaller. We can move faster. We are moving faster. You’re a special operations background. You do not mass soft. You distribute soft for multiple reasons. You can mass effects, distribute the force, hide, and cause a conundrum for the adversary whether it’s small teams that are adversarial to you or large organizations trying to find you.

Imagine distributing the entire service in a battle space, creating time and distance. With better capabilities, they can mass effects in a distributed fashion. That’s a different way to think even about maneuver and distribute warfare. We’ll talk more in the next couple of questions probably about that. This is the direction that I think all the services must go because our adversary can target us in mass.

Let’s go there. The Marines are implementing now Force Design 2030. That is designed for this great power struggle. We’ve talked for a lot of years when we were in counterinsurgency, we said, “We have this near-peer. Eventually, we’ll fight the near-peer.” What you’re talking about is peer-to-peer competition. The realization is that that’s where we are. We are in a peer-to-peer competition right now. Force Design 2030 has been developed under the ethos that the enemy is more advanced technologically and is more motivated than ever to combat America. That’s an important aspect because we have fought a lot of wars through time and we fought a lot for many years. People were motivated, but they lacked the actual technology to compete toe-to-toe.

Now we have a motivated adversary with technology. Another big component of Force Design 2030 is that we can no longer assume that we maintain air maritime and information superiority. That is absolutely critical. The last point here is that the Marine Corps must be able to survive and thrive inside contested spaces, to your point at the beginning about being the leading edge of battle and having to be a distributed service in these areas. Under Force Design 2030, what is being phased out, and what is being phased in?SMMC Troy Black on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi

That’s a deep one, conceptually. History is a great lesson in warfare. Things change, but some things don’t. I don’t want to use the Pacific because we’ll get into a discussion about, “All there is is the first island chain.” No, that’s not the case. Let’s assume we’re in Europe right now. How long did it take the 8th Air Force to gain air dominance over Europe? Time. It wasn’t a guarantee on day one. It was in Afghanistan. It’s dominance like there’s nothing else flying. No offense to that adversary. Anybody has been in contact with those guys. That combat is combat. We didn’t have big jet fighter aircraft fights over Afghanistan that I recall. I don’t recall that.

[bctt tweet=”History is a great lesson in warfare. Things change, but some things don’t.” via=”no”]

Whether it’s a peer or a near-peer, you determine what the current adversary is. They do. In that automatic assumption, if you’re going to operate, you already have certain things that are guaranteed that are no longer a fact. It’s not a fact and not against an adversary. If we’re thinking about nation-state, us against China, is that the future? We don’t know, but there’s this thing called proxy. We’ve fought that pretty regularly over the course of the last decades. In the nation’s capabilities, helping someone else fight us in our capabilities, that’s proxy. It’s the same thing.

I would offer that force design is based on a couple of not assumptions but facts. 1) The adversary has light capabilities and all domains new to our last generation of warfare. Not historically, but in the last. Experience and history are important. 2) How do we compete in that environment? Simple things. Deception is new again. Our last years showed us a physical presence and, in most cases, was also a deterrent.

If I’m hearing you see me, I won’t act. Now we’re back to hiding because we can be seen. Being seen is bad. The distribution of the force is interesting. In history, we can change a little bit how we operate. Historically, let’s use artillery. This gets into some of your questions about things we’re doing and not doing. The massing of artillery to mass effects is a thing of the past because your artillery can now be targeted with small amounts of lethal precision weapon systems and destroy all the new capabilities.

What if you can distribute the capability and still mass the fires? It sounds simple, but quite frankly, it’s new. In order to distribute that force, now you put the enemy conundrum where they have to target not all, but they have to target one. They don’t know which one is the decoy. In what environment are you providing that decoy? In cyber, emissions, or EW? It’s not a fact in the last several years or so. Now how do you mass those effects? Those effects may not be kinetic. They may be in cyber or some action in space.

They may be maneuvering a force under the water or a resupply movement of a sub-service. Unmanned craft is bringing resupply to a place you’re not yet at, but when you’re distributed, you maneuver there to provide deception of the adversary. That’s a new complexity to warfare that we’re doing now that is actually distracting and confusing to our peer adversary. That’s new at national level capabilities. Conventional warfare is at the high end. That takes a lot of work to put that in place. That’s Force Design 2030.

I got to ask this question for all my friends in MARSOC buddies. Where does MARSOC fall into Force Design 2030?

Service bias. Is that fair? Can I do that?

Yes, please.

There are only three organizations in any weapons engagement zone in the littorals. It’s Marines, submarines, and soft. Everyone else is trying to get there. Even outside of the first island chain, there is a West in every littoral on the planet. There are only three organizations operating there. It’s Marines, soft, and submarines within striking range of a littoral, a maritime environment. That’s not a matter of planning. That’s a matter of persistence. That occurs now by, with, and through. It’s a joint force operation. If you think of it in that terms, it’s different capabilities. How do you use them to connect them? This is part of the future work we’re doing. Soft is not absent from the equation. I’d say soft still set conditions for the conventional force in almost every environment.

TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

“There are only three organizations in any weapons engagement zone in the littorals; it’s Marines, it’s submarines, and it’s SOF.”

I agree with you. There’s a lot of focus and pressure that has been put on the need to address the mental health of our veterans, Marines, and all of our service members. Not only our veterans. I want to expand that need to those who still serve, which is a much harder conversation to have. What we are asking is that we have people who are trying to progress through the ranks to come forward and say, “I’m struggling. I’m having a hard time.” It’s different when you’re a veteran and that part of your life is over, even though veterans struggle at a very high level to reconcile and come to grips with the challenges that they face.

One of the important factors of some of the initiatives that you’ve talked about is your holistic view of health and readiness where there needs to be an incorporation of fitness relationships, even things like finance and mental health. I had a chance to sit down with the Commissioner of the Department of Veteran Services in New York City. He’s a National Guard Army Lieutenant Colonel.

He talked to me about when you begin to speak with veterans and you start to unpack their challenges, it’s never one thing. It’s always multiple things. It becomes an onion. When you start to peel those layers back, you realize exactly what you’re talking about. It’s not just mental health. It’s fitness. It’s the relationships with their family and their friends. How are you focusing on this holistic approach to caring for marines who currently serve as well as the veteran population?

Frankly, I think I’m failing because I’m not going as fast as I want it to go. I rarely do I use the word I. In this case, I’m going to use the word I. I mentioned to you earlier, I attended the Joint Special Operations Senior Enlisted Academy back in 2011 or 2012. I get some Class 5 if you’re out there. I learned about the preservation of the force and family that SOCOM has. There happens to be that the then-current commander invented that, like, “We’re going to do this then. We’re going to put it all together. We have too much going on in the soft forces that we’ve got suicide and mental health.”

“We’ve got all the things that we see happen in the entire world, and we can’t figure out in this highly screened, highly trained, vetted community of individuals. There isn’t a better outcome to that.” We have the POTFF, Preservation of the Force and Family. It’s learning that and then looking at some of the struggles that I see in my family and Marines that we experience across the force and all the services experience. We did a working group the first year that I was a Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps. We went to our MARSOC and let them host it. They talk about the POTFF and brought in all the people that deal with all of our human performance factors.

Let me define human performance as I have been told to define it based on that working group. We think of fitness as the physical. We got a lot of strong folks in the world that are alcoholics. We got a lot of people going to lift 1,000 pounds but literally scream at themselves on their way home. We got a lot of people that are so sucked into their phones all day long. They have no connectivity, but they come into the office like they’re very extroverted, a good communicator, and a good leader.

There’s mental, social, behavioral, and spiritual fitness. You can’t have those four things and have successful physical fitness. You can’t have one without the other. We focus on 1, learn to focus on 2, mental, and still absent from the other 3, which is connectivity. Why is it so difficult for us to understand when our units are deployed together, they’re together and cohesive? They think, “I know when your socks are off because I know the smell of your feet.” That’s how tight we are. We communicate. We’re all together. We come back from a deployment and disperse but wonder why Johnson killed himself.

TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

“Mental fitness. Social fitness. Behavioral fitness. Spiritual fitness…You can’t have one without the other.”

You immediately disperse.

Yes, but we can’t figure out why. Johnson doesn’t have Smith, Jones, Baxter, and James there with him every day. He or she’s lost that connectivity. They also may lose a sense of purpose. That thing you did on that deployment was important. We get into a little bit of spirituality here. If you don’t have a reason to be here tomorrow, there’s no higher calling for your existence. Define spirituality however you define it. Religion could be that wall right there. I don’t care. If you fail to recognize that there’s a purpose for you, you’re spiritually dead and you’re deficient. That could be the reason Johnson took his own life. Let alone his family and the loss of his friends.

[bctt tweet=”If you don’t have a reason to be here tomorrow, there’s no higher calling for your existence.” via=”no”]

For anybody reading, society and life are hard. You then add complexities. Remember, we are practicing for the Super Bowl every single day. There is stress in the military. That’s probably the same in the civilian sector as police, firemen, and first responders. Every day, they got to save a life. It’s the same for them unless we begin to think about people and things. To buy a weapon, you have a required maintenance program.

It’s not optional. Holistic fitness must be a requirement, not optional. “I would like to go see a doctor.” “No, you’re going to go see a doctor and you got to create a culture where that’s okay.” Not to drag this out but I accidentally said this in 2022. I was asked about mental health. I say get help and I did. That’s a video. There’s no stigma either. We could talk for hours. I’ll close it there.

That’s the hardest part. What you’re talking about is the stigma that people feel exists that they’re not going to get promoted. Their peers are going to look at them. Their commanders, seniors, and those above them are going to look down and say they’re not fit and can’t do the job. That’s what has to be removed.

Let me be a counter to that for a moment. The stigmas exist. Who has the stigma? Others or you? In other words, I don’t want to be seen as weak. I might even be given someone to understand that I may have a weakness. My own self-image prevents me from allowing someone to think that I have a weakness. Therefore, if I go on to see a mental health provider, run my car into a wall, or self-medicate with alcohol, someone is going to say I didn’t ask for help because they have a stigma. I have stigmatized my own personality to myself. I don’t allow anybody in. That’s that social piece. The greatest thing I’ve seen is getting in contact with Vietnam veterans. No one joins the VFW anymore.

Why are they in it? It’s because they remain connected. We don’t want anybody to know our problem now. They solved the problem that previous veterans got had a hard time with. They got after it. They stay connected. You don’t get a reunion very often anymore. In our many years of war, you don’t get together because you don’t want anybody to know. Also, in society. I’ll be a counter in society for a moment. “Thank you for your service.” What does that mean? It’s a social courtesy like saying good morning when you’re having a bad day. You’re saying it because you’re saying it.

In some cases, some mean it, but when a veteran hears that, they’re like, “What are you thanking me for? My service for what? Do you know what I did? Do you understand?” I live in a TikTok world where I see perfection. I see the 800-pound muscle-building special operator. I want to be them, but I’m a little skinny guy and I can shoot really good. Even my thought of myself is off. That guy on TikTok is fake. He’s a poser. That has got a challenge for us. For veterans and even those that still served, it’s okay to say, “I’m going to take a knee for a second. If I don’t take a knee for a second, I’m not going to be very good tomorrow.” As leaders, we have enough experience now in this environment.

I won’t say his name, but in a fight in Afghanistan, he’s one of the best company gunnery sergeants that I’ve known. If he ever reads this, he knows who I’m talking to. We went out to a position right after a pretty serious firefight in one of our companies, the Battalion 7th Marines. He was shot. He was done. He had a day. He didn’t like it, but we put him in the vehicle. We took him back to the battalion command post and give him about 24 hours. He lost no respect from his company when he went back.

Marine color guard from MCRD San DiegoHis self-esteem was hurt a little bit at that time. He had no idea what to do for the rest of that five months of deployment. That was the best company Gunnery Sergeant we had in the battalion. We would’ve lost him within a day or two. I’m not obtaining credit for it. I give him the credit because he went back and I give credit to the stigma of conversation because no one said, “Gunny tapped out yesterday.” They understood. I dare anybody to say, “No gunny.” He would snatch him up by the stack and swivel. Sometimes it takes that. We should do that more. Sorry to drag that out.

That’s a really important conversation. The points that you highlighted are so applicable not only to our veterans but those who serve. What are the goals of the military that so many people forget? I can say this because I’m on the outside, but I’m looking to hire veterans every day in my businesses and the initiatives that we’re doing. At some point, we want people to come out of the military, go into the civilian populace, function at a high level, and contribute to the next phase of their life. There are a lot of people out there, and I have particular problems with them.

I call them professional veterans. The only thing they’ve ever done is, “I was in the military for four years and I advocate on veteran affairs. That’s the only thing I do in my life.” It’s like, “You got a long life. Figure out something else to go do. What do you want to be?” That part was your life at one point. You learned a lot, you want to take that and carry that forward because it shaped you. We talked about effective intelligence, but there are other things in life when you are done to go out there and do that. What you’re talking about is helping people through difficult times while they serve so that when they get out, it doesn’t crescendo on them as a veteran.

All of a sudden, they’re what we read about in the papers who take their life. It’s very much like I felt when I turned my DOD ID card in at Fort Carson. I looked at Fort Carson in the rearview mirror and cried because that was everything I knew. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. All my friends were gone. My life was gone. That’s not what we want. We want people to get out and say, “I’m good with what I did in the military. They’ve taken care of me mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Now I can contribute to society in a meaningful, different way.”

That’s a great point. It’s amazing. I’ll show my bias again. Former Commandant mid-1990s General Krulak said, “The Marine Corps does three things. We make Marines, win our nation’s battles, and return as good citizens back to society.” We have fewer veterans than post-World War II out there because there’s a massive people. However, more people had served, therefore there was a community outside of wartime to be with. Now we’ve got many years. There are people who retired that are retiring now after 9/11.

They spent the majority of that years. In the operational tempo right now, we’re in pure competition. We’re campaigning with the services to get after deterrence and global forward presence. The shooting is not going on as much, but the tempo hasn’t slowed down. We’re in this many years now because there’s no slowdown. The amount of time is massive, but the amount of people is not. Even that connectivity in society isn’t there because there aren’t other veterans that are everywhere to connect with. That connectivity piece is so important.

If you played football in high school, you’re throwing football to somebody now because it’s your thing. You can associate with people. I don’t talk basketball. I’m from Kentucky. I played football in Kentucky. I’ll talk about football. If I don’t have that same group of people to talk to, in other words, other veterans, it’s a challenge for us. I’ll be careful there because pimp people are doing good things, but there is a professional veteran’s that like to get free chicken dinner sometimes too.

I think it’s very complicated when you leave service and don’t know where to go. It’s a massive amount of effort to make sure people are prepared to get out. Let me close up on this. My wife has retired. Laws have changed to do transition, “Be part of the group DD-214 training and job assistance.” She felt a vacuum after 21 years of serving as a Marine. Luckily, I’m still in and she could remain connected. Had she not, I don’t know what challenges she would’ve had. She’s a combat veteran. That has its own challenges too.

Let’s talk about the next generation. You’re fresh off speaking to a graduating class here so this is important. We would be lying if we did not say that there are cultural differences between generations that exist in the country throughout time. We had the greatest generation. It was their duty to serve. We had the Baby Boomers. Many of the Baby Boomers felt forced to serve. Generation X is a little bit hit or miss.SMMC Troy Black at MCRD with Fran Racioppi

Some identified with the greatest generation. Some identified with the Baby Boomers, and then Generation Y came along. Many of them post-9/11 era but less of them made service an entire career. Now we have Generation Z. This is the young officers and the NCOs of today. I meet people, and it’s scary when they say, “I was born after 9/11.” You’re like, “I feel old now.” What do you see in the next generation of Marines? How would you assess their desire to serve?

There are a lot of ways to answer the question. I put a thing called the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Memo out a few years ago on this very topic because I kept getting told, “This generation.” I’ll put something out called Old Core, New Core. It’s worth reading. I won’t go into it right now, but it will get to your point. My instructors at infantry school when I was a young Marine going through school learning how an infantry were mostly all Vietnam veterans. They’re convinced that when it hits the fan, there’s no way some Pepsi generation popped two eyes odd shirt collar wearing high and tight Brian Bosworth fan was ever going to be able to make it through the shit. You’re going to fail miserably.

They come to find out that wasn’t the case. Not me, but generations. However, every generation does have a uniqueness to it. I always say mine is the why generation. Why are we doing this? Gunny couldn’t say, “Do it because I said so. I’ll kick your ass.” It was, “Gunny, why are we doing this?” It’s because I was taught to ask this new idea about telling somebody how to think now, what to think.

I don’t think it’s new. I was taught in school to ask why, “Why is 2 plus 2 equals 4?” It’s because that’s fricking four. You have a why. It’s something simple. That was a challenge to leadership then. These are guys who were drafted into Vietnam and were told to do. Whether they wanted to or not, they stayed around. Their experience was do-as-I-say authoritative leadership. It’s not how we reopened the ‘80s, except for Rambo who always won, by the way.

He never ran out of ammo. He never reloaded.

By the way, there’s a message in there. We can talk about the propensity to serve here in a minute. What’s our generation like? Even Gunny could lie to me then. I could ask the question why. Gunny may not know. She might tell me something. I’m like, “Okay.” Now you got somebody in the back of the room going, “Google, Gunny said this.” Google is going to go, “Gunner is a dumb ass.” “Say that again. Turn the volume up, too, Google.” “Gunny is a dumb ass.” Now we have different people to communicate with. If I could put in a year’s career of seeing a couple of different generations, I have children and two of them.

It’s how we communicate that probably changes or doesn’t change to fit the generation that’s going to serve. There are pretty good books about how America was going to fail in World War II because that generation wasn’t tough enough. That draftees, all-volunteer force, Gen X, Gen Y, or Gen Z are never going to have enough grit. There’s one change that we’ve never experienced. The effects of COVID, not the pandemic itself, but how we see and find success in isolation is contrary to the team. If I think there’s a challenge that’s new, we have to focus more on how to tell people how to be in a team because, in the next few years, people don’t know that other than virtually, beginning on the ground, swaying together, and talking together. It is not a thing.

TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

“We have to focus more on how to tell people how to be in a team right now.”

That’s going to be a challenge. It’s unique, quite frankly. I’m not sure how we get after that other than to teach people to get outside, get dirty, and roll around in the dirt a little bit. That’s what the military does. It’s an event to see. Generationally, sometimes we overplay it if we ignore the generational differences. If we know what they are and admit them, communicate with that generation, and not force them to communicate as we do, it’s probably a better place to start.

What you said about the implication of COVID on what I call the up-and-coming, if you look at the civilian or the corporate world, the next corporate leaders is very scary. If you go back to the graduating class of 2019 from college or high school, for example, who has now been in the workforce for four years, they only have a couple of months where they were going into the office and interacting with people. Four years now into their life, they are going to be managers or they are managers, which means that they’re going to lead others and have direct reports.

The only interaction that they understand is a Zoom call, which is transactional in nature. As you said, they’re back on their phones and doing other things. How much gets done when those meetings end in the hallway, the five minutes after the meeting when you’re sitting and talking to someone, or when you’re sitting and going to lunch with somebody that they don’t understand? Now, companies and organizations are looking at them and us who have had those experiences as more senior leaders default to, “I’m going to put them in charge, and they’re going to be able to lead their team when we come back to the office.” No, they’re not.

Their interpersonal skills are not there and a generation is already challenged. Here’s the one generational thing that is unique. The connectivity of a generation that is connected to the entire planet and never has to engage with anything or anyplace else on the planet is unique to history. The television didn’t do it. You could see a picture here, but you couldn’t interact with it. I can have a conversation and have a friend who’s imaginary. It’s not a human. It’s a computer talking to me. I think it’s a human. That’s a whole different dynamic. The personal relationship stuff, especially when you’re talking about with military, what was most cherished is being able to engage, lead, take a group of people, move them, and get them to do things.

That’s a little bit of re-engineering. I think we’ll be fine doing it. We’ll be forced to do it because conflict is coming, and you can learn a lesson one way or the other. That will bleed itself out literally before we start to click again. It is the pig in the snake right now, too, that will come and go. However, having said that, I have some good thoughts. Those companies are quickly figuring out the ones that brought them back to work first, their privates are back up. The ones that are still thinking Zoom is the way to go, they’re trying to figure out how to work in this new space in the environment known as people like coming to work and going to lunch. They’re having a hard time in that environment.

In decades in the Marine Corps, Sergeant Major, what do you tell the eighteen-year-old kid who’s standing outside the Marine Corps recruiting station wondering and trying to decide if this is their future? Before you answer that question, I’m going to give you my bias to the Marine Corps. Hands down the absolute best advertising. I don’t care who you are or where you served. If you watch a commercial for the Marines, you’re ready to serve immediately. I know I am. What do you tell that person?

Every service recruits think about what it’s going to be successful in its service. I commend every service. I say that and I will throw my bias in here in a second. Every service recruit is exactly what it needs. I do not know what the Air Force is looking for. I’m not an Air Force. I don’t know what the Navy is looking for. I’m not a sailor, nor am I a soldier. I’m a Marine. The only thing that consistently draws someone into the Marine Corps is not education, bonuses, or anything. I talked to recruiting school, and I get reinforced every time I’m here to make sure we’re not changing the model. We sell the brand.

TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

“We’re looking for something. It’s someone who wants to win…only.”

The United States Marine Corps for 247 years when caught upon has not lost a fight. That’s a pretty good brand. You could probably find some disparate historical example that might tell you, “There was that one day.” That’s a pretty good brand, and it’s true. All the services are fishing in the same pond. Anybody reading this from another service, I don’t want you to think I’m condescending to you, but we’re looking for something. It’s someone who wants to win only, not try to figure it out and hope tomorrow that it’s going to be a better day. It’s to win. That’s what every commercial shows. You don’t see a commercial like, “Come on, guys.” You see a commercial that says, “Follow me.”

[bctt tweet=”All the services are fishing in the same pond.” via=”no”]

You don’t see a commercial that has people doing jumping jacks. I’m not saying anybody is doing that, throwing balls at each other, and doing paintball gun fights. We shoot guns, we drop bombs, we come from the sea, we swim, we fight, and make map training. We put on the recruiting video. “That’s dangerous and violence.” Absolutely because, even in the service, warfighting is the only thing we focus on. Back to your original paragraph, every other service has other missions outside a simple warfighting function. Ultimately, it’s warfighting. It has the Department of Defense, but they have other functions.

We’re very fortunate. We don’t have to worry about the challenge of some of those other things, which would change the brand. We would have to do something different. We only do one thing, and one thing only, locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire maneuver. Every recruit, male or female, on both depots has the same training schedule, same recruit training, same knowledge, same history, and same everything. Male or female, basically trained riflemen, all of them. That’s a brand. That’s what draws them in. That’s why I’m here. It’s the only reason to join and stay.

Are you ready for the test question?

I’m ready for the test question.

Sergeant Major, as we close out, the Jedburghs in World War II had to do three things to be successful. There are core foundational tasks. You could call them habits if you wanted. They had to be able to shoot, move, and communicate. You may have heard of that before. If they did these three things with the utmost precision, then they could focus their attention on more complex, more challenging tasks that came their way like arming and equipping the French resistance, training them, and fighting the German Army. What are the three things that you do every day in your world to be successful, personally?

There are many books on seven habits and all these different books. I’m extroverted. I’m that squirrel guy. There are very few people, even the ones that lie to us and tell us they don’t have any habits. They are very exact in their routine. For me personally, I would say to my staff and anybody I’ve ever worked with knows this, “If I don’t eat, don’t PT, and don’t have time to read, it’s not going to be a good day.” Why would you do those three things? You got to take care of your body. That’s the nutrition piece or not.TJP - EP #098 SMMC Troy Black 19th Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

The food is good. That’s the only reason to do it. The more experienced we get, the more time we have that strains us, and the more discipline we have to exhibit by ensuring we keep our bodies fit. It’s also a time to think when you’re doing PT. This is the time to reflect. When you’re in your own world and you’ve got your headphones on, I get more done than an hour and or so that I get to squeeze out of a day. Whether it’s at 4:30 in the morning or at noon, I get a lot done there in my mind, reading on the mind piece. I’m a creature of the Marine Corps. We require Marines to read books at every rank in order to be eligible for promotion and as part of their development.

I’m sure every service does this. I have fortunate leaders that taught me early on that you better read something, but don’t read that. Read something that gives you a perspective. Read things that you don’t normally have an interest in until you find out there’s a reason to have an interest in something. I’ll read a lot of history. I’ve learned to not read about firefights anymore. I’ll read about campaigns and wars. The reason I do that is because you can learn those lessons. Those who fail to know their history are doomed to repeat it. It is probably said many different ways, but that’s the phrase. You can learn a lot by reading what someone has done and their mistakes to ensure you don’t make them again. It’s also important to read for the same reason about PT.

It takes discipline. You have to manage your time, and it gives you time to think. If you’re like me, I can’t read one thing at a time. That’s why I have a Kindle. I got nine books I’ll read at the same time because there’s a little squirrel in there. It doesn’t matter what my personal habits are. For anybody to be successful, you got to have those 3 or 4 things that if you don’t do them, you know your day is not going to be good because you know something is wrong. Regularity is great.

Eat to take care of everybody, PT to think and reflect, and read and learn the lessons of the past so you don’t repeat them. Those three are great. I had a general once who worked in my command, who said, “Leaders need time to think.” I was a young captain, and I was like, “That’s stupid. What’s he talking about?” You realize later in life that you talk about effective intelligence that we did. That is so important. It’s important to disengage. The processing you do when you have time to reflect and think is so meaningful.

It doesn’t matter at what level. The more senior, the more difficult. For senior enlisted, your bosses are spinning. Give them the space, even for anybody. The more you’re responsible for, the slower you probably should think, and the more deliberate you should think. Responsibility and experience don’t always come to a speed. It should come with thought, and they’re not the same thing.

[bctt tweet=”Responsibility and experience don’t always come to a speed. It should come with thought” via=”no”]

I can’t sum it up any better than that. Sergeant Major, thank you. This has truly been an honor. This is a great day for the Jedburgh show. It’s a great day for me. If I’d still been in the Army, I probably would’ve never had a chance to meet you. I’ve gotten to do a lot of really cool things in the Army. I’ve done even better things since I’ve been out doing this show. It’s an awesome day. One of the best days of my year is celebrating the Marine Corps’ birthday. They do a great job on that before Veterans Day. We do it in New York every year and then we hit the parade. Sergeant Major, Oorah.

Can I say thanks to you? The things you talk about, the questions you ask, and the responses that you’re trying to get are influencing people. You’re still leading and you’re also helping. If I could say one more thing as I got a chance to think about it, I would ask people to think about humility sometimes as a leadership trait. It’s not in there. It’s not written in anybody’s book. Humility is a powerful tool, and humility doesn’t mean cowardness. Some of the most aggressive, dangerous humans that I know have humility. You’ve got humility. Thanks for sharing with everybody. It makes an impact. I appreciate you.

Thank you. That means a lot.


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