REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – One secret of the Army Materiel Command senior enlisted advisor’s success is never forgetting where he came from or the family that supported him along his journey.
Telling his story as the nation and the Army close out their 2020 celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month, Command Sgt. Maj. Alberto Delgado said he takes pride in his Puerto Rican roots and how growing up in the projects of New York City shaped his life and Army career.
“I come from a long line of proud Puerto Ricans. My parents were the first in their families to move away from the island, but we maintained the importance of our culture and our roots as I grew up,” said Delgado, also noting how he and his sister spent every summer in Puerto Rico until he graduated from high school.
“Those summers allowed me to stay tied to the island. Also in my family, we only spoke Spanish at home. English was what we spoke at school.”
Along with his family roots and cultural connections, Delgado said it was the diversity of New York City that instilled in him his earliest leadership lesson.
“It was from my mom and from growing up in New York City, which is so diverse in different cultures, that I really learned the most important thing in life – to treat people how you want to be treated,” he said. “Starting with that as the foundation of my leadership philosophy has been the secret to my success.”
Delgado’s 33-year Army career started in the New York National Guard, in which he enlisted at age 17, choosing field artillery cannon crewmember as his military occupational specialty. Switching to active duty status in 1989, he reclassified as a 76C PLL Tamm’s clerk. Over the next 30 years, he would serve in Alaska, Germany, Italy and elsewhere, including the Logistics NCO Academy, Fort Lee. He deployed five times for combat and peacekeeping operations. Now serving as the Army’s senior enlisted sustainer, he is the first Puerto Rican to hold that position.
“Working in the Army started as a job and, somewhere around 10 years, it became a career, but when it really clicked was when it became a passion,” Delgado said. “There is nothing else I want to be doing than taking care of Soldiers. I see them as an investment, and watching them succeed and becoming a command sergeant major is what success looks like to me. When I talk about leaving a legacy, that’s what I’m talking about – not what positions I’ve held but the people I’ve brought up with me.”
Delgado said taking the time to mentor those around you is the most important thing a leader can do, and he is encouraging enlisted leaders to reach two levels down.
“Everyone is busy, but you can’t use that excuse. You need to find time. It’s our job to prepare the next generation and ensure they are ready when it’s time to pass the torch,” Delgado observed. “How you treat those around you impacts more than just them because a Soldier takes that home with them at the end of the day, and it impacts the family. We can’t lose good Soldiers because we aren’t taking care of them and their families.”
While he’s had many mentors throughout his career, two that stick out to him are the previous individuals who held the AMC senior enlisted adviser position – retired Command Sergeants Major James Sims and Rodger Mansker. Four years ago, when Delgado served as AMC’s Operations and Logistics (G3/4) SGM, he credited Sims for preparing him for his future role at the command.
“I see that everything CSM Sims did prepared me for the position I’m in today,” he said. “He developed me, made sure I understood the mission – the major subordinate commands – and realize the importance of what we do at AMC. Serving as the G3/4 sergeant major is one of the best things that ever happened to me.”
Following his own secret to success, Delgado said he will focus his energy at AMC on people. He has developed a robust senior sustainment leader talent management program and is working with Gen. Ed Daly, AMC commander, on implementing the Army’s Project Inclusion efforts.
“It’s a proven fact that organizations with more diversity perform better,” Delgado confirmed. “I know for me, growing up in a diverse and multi-cultural area shaped who I am today.”
The Fort Lee Army Garrison is a subordinate element of Installation Management Command-Training, which was realigned under AMC in March 2019. The positive outcomes of the realignment, according to the Army, include “established unity of command and effort on installations; improved readiness of Soldiers and formations; and strengthened well-being of Soldiers, civilians and families.”