In September 2018, news broke that the popular senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, had been temporarily relieved amid an investigation into alleged misconduct. Six months later he was back on the job, but details of that investigation are still under wraps, as the Pentagon has not released documents in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.
But Troxell addressed the allegations during a farewell briefing Monday, as he prepares to retire on Friday.
“The particulars of that, I don’t want to discuss in this forum,” he told Military Times. “But I will tell you, what I’ve learned is, you know, self-reflection is important, especially as a senior enlisted leader.”
Troxell was reassigned as a special assistant to the vice director of the Joint Staff during the Army inspector general investigation, launched after the office received a complaint about Troxell’s conduct. He was reinstated in March after final approval from then-chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford.
Without sharing any specifics, Troxell alluded to a potential issue in his office as a reason for the investigation.
“Be cognizant of your environment at all times,” he said of his advice to other leaders dealing with allegations of misconduct. “When you serve as the senior enlisted adviser to the [chairman] and your job is to gain the pulse of the force for the chairman, that suggests that you’re out with the troops. You can get so focused on the operational environment and providing that pulse that you forget about being back here at the Pentagon and what your role is back here."
The SEAC serves not only as an adviser to the chairman, but also the head of a staff that reports to him.
“So, my advice to any senior enlisted adviser out there is, yes, you have a primary mission to be out with the troops and make sure that you’re providing what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, what conditions they’re doing it under back to your boss – but you’ve got to make sure that you are cognizant of all of your surroundings and that you know what’s going on around you back in your headquarters.”
He was encouraged during his reassignment, he said, by all of the senior leaders, peers, families and former soldiers of his who reached out to offer their support. At one point, hundreds of supporters, many of them on active duty in the Army, formed a Facebook group calling for his exoneration.
"When something happens like this, you have to look internally and say, ‘Did I let myself down? Did I let the position down? Did I let the greater institution down?’ " Troxell said, adding that he thought about, “how to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again, and how do I continue to regain the trust as I go out and about and continue my duties?”
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.