Sgt. Maj. Carlos Ruiz recently held his first meeting with reporters as the Marine Corps' top enlisted leader. During the press conference, he addressed various topics, including his own background in the Marine Corps, the mental and physical health of service members, political issues, and the future of conflict for young Marines post-Global War on Terror.
Ruiz emphasized that despite being a warehouse clerk by trade, he always identified himself first and foremost as a Marine. He encouraged other Marines to share their stories, both positive and negative, highlighting the importance of overcoming challenges and learning from them.
As he assumes his role as sergeant major of the Marine Corps during a period of transition, Ruiz acknowledged the shift in focus from Middle East insurgencies to competition in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly against China. The Marine Corps is open to exploring new approaches in logistics, personnel, technology, and training while maintaining its core amphibious nature.
However, the Marine Corps currently lacks a confirmed commandant due to a legislative hold by Senator Tommy Tuberville, who objects to the Pentagon's policy on abortion services. Despite this, Ruiz expressed confidence in the Marine Corps' ability to continue moving forward.
Ruiz shared his personal journey, recounting his experience immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico and overcoming language and cultural barriers. He stressed the importance of mentorship and inspiring young Marines to achieve their goals.
Regarding the changing dynamics of the military and the shift from a kinetic war on terror to a more deterrence-focused approach in the Pacific, Ruiz assured young Marines that they should be prepared for any situation, whether it be disaster relief, humanitarian missions, or combat deployments.
Throughout his career, Ruiz has held various leadership positions and deployed to combat zones in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He highlighted the significance of upholding high standards and accountability as a noncommissioned officer.
As sergeant major of the Marine Corps, Ruiz mentioned several areas of focus, including the holistic health of Marines (spiritual, mental, and physical), improving resources for families, evaluating body composition measurement methods, and considering potential changes to policies on tattoos, physical training, and uniforms.
Ruiz emphasized the need to listen to the force and create an environment that encourages Marines to stay in the service and attracts prospective recruits. He stressed the importance of knowing one's job, respecting standards, and striving to improve every day.
Overall, Ruiz's goal is to build upon the Marine Corps' strong foundation while addressing evolving needs and challenges in order to maintain a highly disciplined and effective force.