U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Major Rafael Rodriguez assumed duties as US. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) senior enlisted leader on September 6, relieving outgoing U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Benjamin Jones, during a change of responsibility ceremony at SOUTHCOM’s headquarters.
Sgt. Maj. Rodriguez, previously served as the sergeant major for the Manpower and Reserve Affairs Division at Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps.
Command Sgt. Maj. Jones will retire after 36 years of distinguished military service in the U.S. Army. Command Sgt. Maj. Jones has served in every position from rifleman to command sergeant major. He assumed duties as the command senior enlisted leader of SOUTHCOM on August 17, 2020, after serving as the command sergeant major for U.S. Army Pacific, Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
As the senior enlisted leader of SOUTHCOM, Command Sgt. Maj. Jones championed the establishment of a dynamic Enlisted Leader Professional Development Strategy across Latin America and the Caribbean and instituted the first ever Multinational Senior Enlisted Leader Jungle Symposium. This was paramount to building esprit-de-corps, synergy, and ownership amongst the partner nation noncommissioned and chief petty officer corps. Command Sgt. Maj. Jones also led six multinational hybrid Senior Enlisted Leader Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) seminars, which significantly elevated the status of our Joint Force and Partner Nations’ noncommissioned women as security enablers and catalysts for change.
Perhaps most importantly, Command Sgt. Maj. Jones was instrumental in the “taking care of people” initiatives, advocating for critical Garrison services for members of the command.
A native of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, Sgt. Maj. Rodriguez attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, in March of 1992. He began his career after graduation, attending Marine Combat Training and subsequently, the Field Artillery School, earning the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of Cannon Crewman.
His deployments include Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait, Operation United Shield/Restore Hope II in Somalia, support for operations in Kosovo, and Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.