AUSTIN, Texas – As the Deputy Chief of Current Operations, G-3/5/7, at Army Futures Command, Rand Rodriguez is immersed in Army transformation.
His team engages with numerous stakeholders and operates across multiple sections to solve challenges and enable systems integration, all in an effort to deliver the Army of 2030 and design the Army of 2040.
“We’re modernizing our equipment, yet we’re transforming the way our Army will function and fight in the future,” Rodriguez said.
The work – which Rodriguez thrives in – represents the culmination of a 40-year career dedicated to serving the Army, one that Rodriguez has fulfilled as both a Soldier and a Department of the Army Civilian.
Rodriguez grew up in greater Detroit, Michigan, and decided to join the Army at the age of 18, in part to support his goal of becoming the first in his family to attend college.
“Remember the old Army slogan ‘Be All You Can Be’? That was me back in 1977,” Rodriguez said, explaining how recruiting efforts highlighting personal growth and college tuition benefits inspired him to become a Soldier.
After enlisting, Rodriguez spent about a year working in Artillery. His commanding officer then suggested he try for the U.S. Military Academy – a place and a program Rodriguez hadn’t heard of previously. After learning he could earn his college degree in return for a handful of years of post-college service to the Army, Rodriguez remembers thinking “why not?”
He went on to attend the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and after a year of academics, received his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
“I took that opportunity and haven’t looked back since,” he said.
Rodriguez continued to work in Field Artillery as a young officer, leveraging his love for numbers into a career that extended well past his five-year service commitment.
“What made me stay in is I enjoyed what I was doing,” Rodriguez said.
His career in the Army also shaped other aspects of his life in positive ways. He met his wife of 39 years while stationed in Monterey, California, and they adopted their son while Rodriguez was serving as a Foreign Area Officer in Bolivia.
“I feel fortunate in that aspect,” Rodriguez said.
He additionally obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees “at no cost” thanks to the Army, allowing him to achieve his original dream of becoming a college graduate.
After 25 rewarding years as a Soldier, Rodriguez decided to continue his support to the Army by transitioning to a Department of the Army Civilian role.
“It was an opportune time to make that transition, and going from wearing the uniform and right into civilian clothes the next day was just great,” Rodriguez said.
He served as Deputy G-3 to Operational Command Post #1 at U.S. Army North, Deputy G-3 at the 21st Theater Sustainment Command in Germany and Domestic Support Chief in the Army Operations Center in the Pentagon before arriving to Army Futures Command – all experiences that aided his ability to help stand up the Army’s newest four-star command.
“We’ve been running since December 2018, and we haven’t slowed down yet, even during COVID-19,” Rodriguez said of Army Futures Command G-3/5/7 activities.
“Keeping track of daily operational requirements and communicating higher/lower/laterally and internally never stops,” he added. “We are entry and exit points for a number of requirements for the command.”
Operations at the command are fast-paced and wide-ranging, Rodriguez explained. His team’s duties include managing Army Enterprise Staff Management System taskers, Operations Orders and Events, Army Protection Programs and International Programs.
“While we are not scientists and engineers, per se, we support the Army’s transformation process by keeping daily operational requirements moving at a brisk pace, keeping the commander informed about issues which effect transformation,” Rodriguez said.
The efforts contribute to broader Army Futures Command aims to “ensure that everyone is synchronized as we transform our Army,” including by integrating skillfully with partners and allies.
“We’re better as a whole than individually,” Rodriguez said.
He has played an instrumental role not just in ensuring that operations run smoothly, but also in uplifting his colleagues.
“Every person is different. Every person’s personality has a uniqueness to it. How you talk to them, how you include them and how you make them feel important to the organization I think is key,” Rodriguez said of his approach to mentorship.
Understanding mission requirements and “just the way the Army runs” has further guided his leadership abilities, as has his commitment to the Army motto of “Mission First, People Always.”
He views “knowing how to balance those two” as being fundamental to success in the Army.
Rodriguez added that he would encourage young people today to “consider the military as an opportunity.”
“The first and most important thing is: freedom isn’t free,” Rodriguez said, emphasizing the importance of contributing to society through service, whether it be military service, volunteering or some other beneficial act.
He believes that through the Army, young people have a chance to give back while also developing personally and professionally.
“It is an opportunity for growth, for learning and to see what you’re made of,” Rodriguez said.