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News | Sept. 6, 2023

Sgt. Major Rafael Rodriguez assumes duties as U.S. Southern Command’s Senior Enlisted Leader

By Steven McLoud / U.S. Southern Command Public Affairs

U.S. Marine Sgt. Major Rafael Rodriguez assumed duties as SOUTHCOM’s Senior Enlisted Leader on September 6, 2023, relieving outgoing U.S. Army Command Sgt. Major Benjamin Jones, during a change of responsibility ceremony at the command’s headquarters.

Sgt. Major Rodriguez, previously served as the Sergeant Major for the Manpower and Reserve Affairs Division at Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps.

CSM Jones will retire after 36 years of distinguished military service in the U.S. Army. CSM 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, Jones championed the establishment of a dynamic Enlisted Leader Professional Development Strategy across the SOUTHCOM AOR 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 Non-Commissioned and Chief Petty Officer Corps. CSM 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’ non-commissioned women as security enablers and catalysts for change.

Perhaps most importantly, CSM 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. Major Rodriguez attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. in March of 1992. He began his career after graduation, attending Marine Combat Training and subsequently, the Field Artillery School, earning the 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.

SOUTHCOM is one of the nation’s six geographically-focused unified commands. The command is responsible for U.S. defense and security cooperation with partner nations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, as well as U.S. military operations in the region. For more information about the command visit