One of the most charismatic and consequential senior enlisted leaders in 21st Theater Sustainment Command annals bade farewell to fellow leaders, allies, Soldiers and family members during a unique ceremony emblematic of his tenure with “Team 21” held March 18 on Vogelweh.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney J. Rhoades, who spearheaded regional as well as internal Soldier, readiness, training and morale initiatives during 28 eventful months as the command’s top enlisted man, relinquished his responsibilities and welcomed his interim successor before an audience of about 300 U.S. and allied military and community leaders as well as Soldiers and family members.
Command Sgt. Maj. Stanley Richards of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade will serve as senior enlisted leader of the TSC, in addition to his own organization, until the arrival of Rhoades’ enduring replacement, Sgt. Maj. Alberto Delgado. TSC officials expect Delgado, who currently serves as the senior enlisted operations and logistics leader at Army Material Command in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, to arrive in late spring.
The outgoing TSC command sergeant major appropriately participated in a Sergeant Morales Club induction just prior to the change of responsibility ceremony. Rhoades’ energetic advocacy pushed the professional development and civic outreach organization to peak levels of recruitment, membership and engagement during his tenure in Kaiserslautern.
The Ashville, Pennsylvania, native assumes responsibilities as senior enlisted advisor to Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management Lt. Gen. David D. Halverson next month. The ACSIM team, headquartered at the Pentagon, provides senior-level expertise on installations, integrating services, developing and implementing strategies, policies, programs and resources for an effective network of facilities and capabilities. Rhoades will serve as an advocate for Soldiers, Army civilians and families during his tour.
Maj. Gen. Duane A. Gamble, 21st TSC commanding general, praised Rhoades’ dedication and energy in remarks following the ceremonial passing of organizational colors.
“I’ve been around for a while now, and there’s no better sergeant major in the U.S. Army than Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Rhoades,” Gamble said. “What sets him apart is his ability to act independently. He travels alone. He takes initiative, and he owns everything he does and everything the command does.”
Gamble placed Rhoades’ tenure in perspective, outlining the daunting operational, strategic and diplomatic milieu of recent years and his outgoing command sergeant major’s role in mitigating its challenges. The general praised Rhoades’ “magnificent leadership, counsel and insights,” noting his unique ability to “promote balance” in terms of family life and professional development as well as operations and organizations.
“That sort of wisdom and judgment comes only from a lifetime of service and commitment,” Gamble added.
Rhoades followed the commanding general to the podium, praising the achievements of Team 21 and the joint, international effort to deter aggression and support allies throughout the region during his final remarks as the TSC’s senior enlisted leader.
“‘Strong Europe’ is based on a strong alliance and strong, enduring partnerships among services, nations and communities,” Rhoades said. “We’ve built more than ‘interoperability’ during the last couple years. We’ve built enduring bonds of confidence, trust and commitment. It’s important we can synch technology and communication, but it’s even more essential we can work as a coherent team. … Whatever comes next, we’ve built a strong, flexible and unconquerable team prepared to stand by our allies, deter aggression, and fight and win if called upon to do so.
“I won’t need to call Gen. Gamble, Command Sgt. Maj. Richards or Command Sgt. Maj. Delgado to know how the Sustainment Terrain Walk, Best Warrior Competition or Anakonda ’16 turned out because I know we have the best officers, NCOs, Soldiers and civilians in the Army, and we are the reason why 30,000 looks like 300,000,” Rhoades added. “Each of you have carried the weight of (U.S. European Command), (U.S. Africa Command) and (U.S. Army Europe) on your shoulders. That is what being a member of Team 21 means, on point for the nation and making logistics look so damn easy!”
Rhoades exuded pride in the team he helped build, as well as the Airmen, allies and partners he served alongside since late 2013.
“I’ve felt enormous pride in this organization from the moment I stepped off the plane in Ramstein,” Rhoades said. “I’m proud of every Soldier and civilian in all our formations from Baumholder to Grafenwoehr, Kaiserslautern to Constantza, (Romania). I’m proud to stand alongside our German brothers in arms, our sister services and our NATO allies. I’m proud to call you battle buddies, and I hope you’re as proud as I am to be part of Team 21.”
Rhoades’ tenure featured intense activity, including dynamic operational and training missions, logistical innovations and renewed national emphasis on the European theater. Senior TSC leaders described him as a transformational figure who contributed enormously to strategic-level accomplishments and built unique rapport with junior and senior personnel alike throughout the command.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Rhoades has served during an unprecedented time in history,” said Col. Matthew Redding, 21st TSC chief of staff. “Atlantic Resolve and the dynamic changes to the European theater have placed a premium on leadership and the role of NCOs leading small units across the 21st TSC area of operation. Command Sgt. Maj. Rhoades has continually focused on Soldier and family readiness issues, trained and mentored junior leaders, and instilled a pride and confidence in our junior Soldiers throughout his tenure. His focus on professional development, unit training and the profession of arms has transformed how the entire command is able to operate in over 18 countries simultaneously, both here in Europe and in Africa.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Rhoades is a singularly unique leader who can communicate easily with the most junior Soldier or the most senior general,” Redding continued. “His ability to listen and improve readiness in units was pivotal during a rapid change in the regional and global security environment. His experience here will pay huge dividends in his next assignment with the ACSIM in Washington, D.C.”
All observers seem to agree Rhoades’ ultimate legacy rests with the Soldiers he taught and mentored during a densely-packed schedule, including relentless circulation through the TSC area of responsibility, conduct of a dizzying array of meetings and professional development events, and hours upon hours of time spent listening to Soldiers and offering sage counsel.
“He’s the most unselfish leader that I’ve ever worked with,” said Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Mitchell, president of the Rheinland-Pfalz chapter of the Morales Club and a platoon sergeant with TSC headquarters who worked extensively with the command sergeant major during the past two years. “His intent is always to put the spotlight on others. He maximized every opportunity to teach, coach and mentor at all levels, from junior Soldiers to junior and senior NCOs and even officers.”
Mitchell, who planned and executed numerous Morales Club events under Rhoades’ tutelage, described the outgoing command sergeant major as a wise mentor as well as a dedicated leader uniquely invested in his Soldiers’ success.
“He identified what my weaknesses were and concentrated on doing everything he could to make them strengths without even knowing it,” Mitchell noted. “The ultimate team player is what I call him.”