Col. Keith Jarolimek served as the First Army chief of staff for a year and helped to oversee its initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Col. Keith Jarolimek served as the First Army chief of staff for a year and helped to oversee its initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Aaron Berogan) VIEW ORIGINAL

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - Col. Keith Jarolimek planned on doing one tour in the United States Army.

“My wife told me it’s been a long four years,” he said.

Instead, he has served for a quarter-century, including a one-year stint as the First Army chief of staff. As he departed First Army for his next assignment, Jarolimek reflected on that time, including his First Army experience and new position.

At First Army, Jarolimek oversaw two Divisions and ten geographically dispersed Brigades responsible for training and certifying National Guard and Reserve units for overseas deployment.

“It is amazing what First Army does to enable total force readiness - from observer coach/trainers on the ground coaching and training their partners in pre-mobilization, to our Soldiers at MFGIs (Mobilization Force Generating Installation) training, validating and deploying Reserve Component partners,” Jarolimek said. “I’m amazed at what those OC/Ts do, and what our civilians and Soldiers on the staff do every day to set our Reserve Component partners up for success.”

Guiding the training and mentoring of Soldiers at First Army fit well for Jarolimek, who has been guided by the concept of selfless service through Soldier development throughout his career.

“The leaders and Soldiers you get to develop, that’s the biggest thing I love about the Army,” he said. “That, and the sense of being part of something bigger than yourself and the sense of service.”

“I’ve always tried to be the best teammate, to take care of my Soldiers, to develop my leaders, and contribute to whatever organization I’m a part of and leave it a better place than when I came,” he said.

And he left First Army having experienced the unforeseen challenge of a pandemic.

“I’m very proud of the COVID response,” he said. “The dedication of the work force at the headquarters is amazing. During telework, our productivity did not drop. That’s because of the dedicated employees we have who really care about the mission.”

All in all, it made for a memorable tour.

“I’d like to thank the whole First Army team,” he said. “It’s been a phenomenal year here and I’m proud, honored, and privileged to have served with this organization.”

After his assignment at First Army, Jarolimek will assume duties as a training and exercises officer at Space and Missile Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. At his new position, he will develop and provide current and future global space, missile defense, and high altitude capabilities to the Army, joint force, and our allies and partners, to enable multi-domain combat effects; enhance deterrence, assurance, and detection of strategic attacks; and protect the nation.