Secretary Austin, Deputy Secretary Hicks, Chairman Milley, Department leaders past and present, distinguished guests, friends, and family members: good morning and thank you for being here.
Today marks an important milestone for the United States Army, as we celebrate the service and accomplishments of two of its highly distinguished leaders and welcome another into position as the 17th Sergeant Major of the Army.
I am deeply honored to host this ceremony and express my thanks to General McConville and Sergeant Major Grinston.
They have been incredible teammates.
During four consequential years as the Chief of Staff and Sergeant Major of the Army, these two men led our soldiers with honor and demonstrated that one of the Army’s greatest strengths is its ability to adapt with speed and skill to new challenges.
As a helicopter pilot, General McConville has more than a little experience using a steady hand to fly in all conditions. And since the summer of 2019, the Army has relied on that steady hand to help guide the force through a host of challenges.
General McConville has kept the Army in flight and on target.
When he became the 40th Chief of Staff of the Army, everyone heard him say, “People First, Winning Matters!”
From day one, he made clear that his focus would be to put people first. And that’s exactly what he did, in ways large and small.
Under General McConville’s leadership, the Army modernized outdated personnel systems and built a market-based, data-driven twenty-first century talent management system.
He helped guide the rollout of the new Integrated Personnel and Pay System, which overhauled everything from pay inquiries to absence requests.
He was instrumental in implementing the new assignments marketplace, which helps match soldier talents and preferences with unit requirements.
This new marketplace is helping to place the right soldiers in the right jobs across the Army, and at the same time gives soldiers and families more of a say in where they go next.
And perhaps most significantly, General McConville drove the development of a new, transformational Command Assessment Program that ensures every battalion and brigade commander is truly ready to lead.
Through the work of his People First Task Force, the Army put forward new strategies to address harmful behaviors in the ranks and improve command climates across the force.
We have more to do to build on General McConville’s important work, but his impact as Chief of Staff has been felt by every soldier in this Army - and so has his dedication.
While people were always first, General McConville also knew that winning matters. And he set the conditions for the Army to win in the decades to come.
General McConville has been central to transforming the Army’s approach to modernization. During his tenure, operators, acquisition professionals, and our partners in industry have worked seamlessly together to develop the capabilities that our soldiers need.
General McConville also championed new organizations within the Army, making the Multi-Domain Task Force, Fifth Corps, and the 11th Airborne Division permanent institutions that will carry the mission forward into 2030.
General McConville was able to do all of this because he had the support of his family.
First and foremost, his wife Maria - herself a soldier-for-life, a businesswoman, and an outspoken advocate for military spouses and families.
For almost four decades, during multiple deployments and command assignments, Maria has been the linchpin of the McConville family.
Not only did she lead the way raising Michael, Jessica, and Ryan - who have grown into successful adults with Army careers of their own - she made time to support countless Army families and mentor other Army spouses as they took on new responsibilities at posts around the country.
Anyone who knows Jim and Maria knows they are an unstoppable team.
They have led by example, balancing Army and family responsibilities and they have relentlessly encouraged others not to miss key life events like the births of children, graduations, or weddings.
Anyone who knows General McConville knows his family is at the center of his life, and that his love and pride in Maria, Michael, Jessica, and Ryan is limitless.
I want to thank all of you, the entire McConville family, for giving so much to the Army and to this nation.
General McConville, you have been a remarkable teammate.
You shared many hard-won lessons with me, and provided thoughtful advice as we grappled with many challenges.
You are the consistent and persistent leader the Army has needed these last 4 years, and our Army will be stronger and better prepared thanks to your efforts.
Even as we say goodbye to the 40th Chief of Staff of the Army, I know that all of us across the Department look forward to the Senate’s confirmation of the 41st Chief of Staff.
We need the Senate to act not only on this nomination, but also on the 300 other General and Flag Officers across the armed services whose careers and lives are now in limbo because of this unprecedented hold.
We need these leaders in place to ensure the readiness of our force. And we need to end all of this uncertainty for our military families.
Today we also bid farewell to the 16th Sergeant Major of the Army, Tony Grinston.
Sergeant Major Grinston has been a critical sounding board for the Army’s senior leaders, one who is never hesitant to give honest feedback.
We have counted on him to speak up, and he has always excelled in this mission!
Looking at his accomplishments as SMA, everything he did was to improve the lethality, readiness, and quality of life for our soldiers.
He led the transformation of the Army’s body composition testing, grooming standards, marksmanship qualification, and implementation of the Army Combat Fitness Test – a complex, 6 event test that every day is significantly improving soldier fitness.
He implemented a “This is My Squad” campaign, refocusing every soldier in the Army on ensuring cohesion as the core of the soldier experience.
The SMA’s advocacy for soldiers is relentless.
He has been a champion for improving barracks and family housing, personally inspecting housing across the Army to ensure that we are putting the safety and well-being of our soldiers and families first.
He led the way developing the concept of warrior restaurants, seeking to deliver more appealing and nutritious dining options to Army posts around the world.
He also invested in developing the talent of our senior non-commissioned officers.
With initiatives like the Nominative Sergeant Majors Solutions Summit, Sergeant Major Grinston drew on the depth of experience senior NCOs provide to develop new solutions to some of the most challenging problems facing soldiers today.
He could not have done this alone, and fortunately he didn’t have to.
His wife Alexandra is also an outspoken advocate for soldiers and families, even as she successfully raised their 2 daughters and works full-time outside the home.
Alexandra, thank you and Sophia and Isabella for all the support you have given to the SMA and to the larger Army family.
I am sure that after a career of 36 years, the SMA is ready to relax, but I would venture to guess that it will not be long until we see him again, finding ways to take care of people.
You have been an inspiration, SMA, and you will be truly missed.
But as the Army prepares itself to face the challenges of the years to come, I can think of no one better to step into the SMA’s shoes than Sergeant Major Mike Weimer.
He joins us from a long career in Special Operations.
He is a proven combat leader who is more than comfortable in ambiguous circumstances, constantly changing conditions, and the harshest of environments.
It sounds like he will be a perfect fit in the Pentagon!
Mike, Kimberly, Zoe, and Ainsley, welcome on board, we are so glad you are here.
To General McConville and Sergeant Major Grinston: Job well done.
You will both be sorely missed, but your contributions have been lasting.
I wish you the very best as you and your families begin this next part of your lives.
It has been a privilege serving with each of you.
Because of all that both of you have done over your many decades of service to develop and lead our soldiers, you can be confident that the Army will continue to keep our country safe and strong for decades to come.