ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The U.S. Army Research Laboratory recently welcomed its new senior enlisted advisor, Sgt. Maj. Jeffery (David) Snipes. As the lab's sergeant major, he will provide advice and counsel to the civilian leadership of ARL as well as its scientists and engineers.

"Being sergeant major means different things to different folks," Snipes said. "For myself, I think it means influencing change; having the opportunity to make a difference and being at the level where you come in with an instant credibility, but you have to maintain that credibility. You have to let the workforce know you are part of their family."

The sergeant major has extensive experience in special operations and satellite communications. He comes to the laboratory from a joint assignment at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

"Most Soldiers that you talk to about the Army Research Lab have never heard of it," he said. "I had been in [the Army] just over 26 years and I had never heard of the Army Research Lab until I got here."

Snipes said that was the consensus he's been hearing from Soldiers assigned to the laboratory as well. He suggested a path forward to raise awareness across the Army about what its scientists and engineers are doing.

"I believe our way ahead truly is for myself and the military deputy to actually get out to the War College and the Sergeants Major Academy and give a brief about the Army Research Laboratory and what we do so when they go back to their organizations as new commanders and sergeants major they can put the word out," he said.

Snipes visited with researchers at the Weapons and Materials Research Laboratory and the Vehicle Technology Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, Sept. 12. Snipes said he looks forward to meeting with all ARL employees.

A South Carolina native, Snipes joined the Army in 1992. He initially served in the 44th Engineer Battalion at Camp Howze, Republic of Korea as a radio operator. Follow-on assignments included: the 52nd Ordinance Group at Fort Gillem, Georgia; the 447th Signal Battalion Fort Gordon, Georgia; Quick Reaction Force Joint Communications Support Element at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; the 112th Signal Battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; the 112th Signal Detachment Camp Smith, Hawaii; a return to the 112th Signal Battalion at Fort Bragg to serve as first sergeant; Headquarters, U.S. Army Special Operations Command (also at Fort Bragg); the Defense Information Systems Agency in Arlington, Virginia, and Fort Meade, Maryland; the160th Signal Brigade at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; and Army Element senior enlisted advisor and Special Operations Forces liaison at Ford Island, Hawaii.

Snipes is a graduate of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, and served as the commandant of the Joint Communications Academy at MacDill Air Force Base.

He most recently served as the senior enlisted leader for the Communications Squadron, Joint Communication Support Element at MacDill Air Force Base. He holds a bachelor's degree in liberal arts with a concentration in Psychology.

The sergeant major has completed multiple real world operations across the globe, to include Bosnia, Qatar, the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan and several locations on the in Africa and Middle East.

"I'm looking most forward to learning new things, meeting with personnel -- the workforce," he said. "There's so many other aspects and areas here that I've never dealt with. I've never dealt with the basic research and the other products we produce here, so I look forward to actually learning about the true focus and mission of the scientists so we can ensure a better product gets to the Soldier."

Snipes replaces Sgt. Maj. Keith Taylor who will retire from the Army later this year.

Snipes said he appreciates that ARL Director Dr. Philip Perconti and the leadership team brought him into the organization.

"I would like to say thank you for having the faith in me and the confidence that I will be the right person for the job," he said. "Soldiers are assigned to the Army Research Lab to ensure we are producing a relevant product to the warfighter."

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The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.