Senior enlisted troops are attending the Joint and Combined Warfighting School, which is typically reserved for officers, as part of a larger effort to better educate and train service members, according to the top enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Norfolk, Virginia-based school normally trains field-grade officers — in grades O-4 through O-6 — in “joint, interagency and multinational war fighting at the operational level,” according to the school’s website. The 10-week program consists of 13 to 14 seminars with 16 to 19 students in each.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell believes that senior enlisted should go through the program, too.

“When I came in to this job, I asked the question to the National Defense University, ‘Why aren’t we sending senior enlisted to this course?’ ” Troxell said at the Air Force Association conference on Wednesday.

Senior enlisted troops have participated in four courses so far, he said, and the Air Force has had more graduates than the other services combined.

“We’re not trying to make officers,” Troxell said. “We’re trying to make better advisers to officers.”

Troxell said even with a high op tempo, leaders must remember “this is a human endeavor that we do.”

“We have to prepare those coming in behind us,” he said.

Three years ago, Troxell said, he didn’t know anybody who would have thought that the Russians were going to enter Syria on the side of dictator Bashar al-Assad.

When Troxell visited American troops in Syria in April, he said he was impressed that 90 percent of the advisers on the ground were enlisted.

“As we look to deal with that, we don’t want to end up in high-end conflict with Russia in Syria,” he said. “We have to make sure we have people on the ground that understand discretionary warfare and understand the operational environment and they can think through these complex problems to come up with solutions.”

Charlsy is a Reporter and Engagement Manager for Military Times. Email her at

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