The Army officially changed out its senior uniformed leaders Friday morning during a ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.
The 39th Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley is taking over as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. James C. McConville has stepped up as the Army’s new top officer.
“It is true, not fake news, that Jim McConville saved my life in Baghdad one day as he rolled in, in an Apache helicopter and pulled me out of a firefight,” Milley said during the ceremony. “McConville is one of the most courageous and thoughtful officers I have ever served with. Jim’s blend of battlefield experience, both in the Middle East and in Washington, made him the perfect officer to take over as chief."
The 15th Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel A. Dailey has stepped down, handing the reins to Command Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Grinston. Dailey is retiring from the service.
“There is no finer choice for the top officer and NCO than General McConville and SMA Grinston,” Dailey said at the ceremony. “Gen. Milley and I will sleep well at night knowing that both of you, such talent that we have, is at the front of this formation.”
During his tenure, Milley carved out a legacy as a “readiness chief," said Army Acting Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy, who hosted the ceremony.
“Through General Milley’s unyielding focus and determination — and with help from the Congress and the president — the Army went from a readiness trough to a readiness peak: from two brigades receiving the highest readiness rating to more than 25; from units trained near exclusively for their next [Central Command] rotation to become proficient in the full spectrum of combat operations,” McCarthy said.
McConville, who is the first aviator to be Army chief, will step into Milley’s role and continue the service’s modernization efforts as well as deal with the personnel issues the Army faces, including “sexual harassment and assault, suicide, domestic violence, and more,” McCarthy said.
McConville commanded the 101st Airborne Division for three years and led the storied unit through multiple combat deployments. He also previously served as the Army G-1 for personnel before being nominated as the service’s vice chief.
The change of officer leadership is also paired with a change in enlisted leaders.
When Dailey took the job three years ago, “he became the youngest ever sergeant major of the Army and the one with the most combat deployments,” McCarthy said.
“Sergeant Major Dailey will be remembered for his instrumental role in the Army’s readiness gains — as well as his singular role launching the NCO credentialing program, which allows soldiers to gain credit that can be applied towards a college degree or job certification,” McCarthy added.
Grinston, who has been awarded two Bronze Stars with valor during his career, has served in every leadership position from team leader to division command sergeant major.
Although he deployed to Iraq with a field artillery unit, he and his troops served as “de-facto infantry for long stretches,” McCarthy said.
According to a 2005 Stars and Stripes report, Grinston had a reputation for being a “magnet for bombs and bullets" on patrol in the narrow streets of Baiji, about 130 miles north of Baghdad.
Grinston comes to the Pentagon from serving as the command sergeant major of Forces Command, which has more enlisted soldiers than any other Army organization, McCarthy noted during his remarks.
“Grinston was known there, and throughout his 30 years in uniform, as the upholder and enforcer of standards; rigorous always, ruthless when called for," McCarthy said. "As well it should be.”
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.