FORT McCOY, Wis. –
Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston wrapped up a two-day visit to the Total Force Training Center July 20-21, 2021, meeting and talking with Soldiers and spouses of the Eagle Brigade, Soldiers attending advanced leader and senior leader courses and U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers training on Fort McCoy as part of Pershing Strike 21.
Grinston’s first stop after landing in Wisconsin was a meet and greet with Lt. Gen. Antonio Aguto, the commander of First Army, along with other senior leaders of First Army, First Army Division West, the Eagle Brigade and Fort McCoy to discuss the role of Pershing Strike 21 and Fort McCoy’s impact to total Army readiness.
Afterwards, he listened to the spouses of Soldiers of the 181st Multifunctional Training Brigade discuss quality of life issues, such as housing, spousal employment, the exceptional family member program and others.
“My job is, whatever your passion is, to explain that to Army leaders,” Grinston told the spouses after a nearly two-hour discussion.
Grinston’s first stop of the next day was a squad level physical training session with Soldiers of 1st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 310th Infantry Regiment, 181st MFTB, which included circuit muscular strength and cardiovascular exercises.
After taking questions about topics that ranged from the Army Combat Fitness Test to possibly extending time-on-station requirements, Grinston met with Soldiers attending advanced leader and senior leader courses at the Fort McCoy Noncommissioned Officer Academy.
Key topics Grinston discussed included leader development, understanding the people first initiative as it relates to readiness and engaged leadership, while also imploring the students to help make his initiative, “This Is My Squad,” more than just a slogan.
“When we talk about people first and readiness, it’s not that we are forgetting about readiness, it’s that we are also establishing individual tasks and building from there,” Grinston said. “Care about your people, engage with them, know your people,” he said.
Next on the itinerary was a meal, ready-to-eat lunch with Soldiers of the 645th Inland Cargo Transport Company, 650th Regional Support Group, 79th Theater Sustainment Command, followed by observing the unit’s convoy operations training led by observer coach/trainers of 1st Brigade Support Battalion, 351st Infantry Regiment, 181st MFTB.
The 645th ICTC is a U.S. Army Reserve unit preparing for an upcoming deployment to the CENTCOM’s area of responsibility.
“First Army has great leaders and great leadership, but their role in what they do for the total Army, what their observer coach/trainers out there do to guide them through training, I’m really proud of what they do,” Grinston said.
From one U.S. Army Reserve unit to another, Grinston spent time with Soldiers of the 1397th Deployment Distribution Support Battalion, 377th Theater Sustainment Command, to learn about port and port transportation operations.
The 1397th DDSB is also preparing for an upcoming deployment to the CENTCOM’s area of responsibility.
“It was definitely an honor to get to speak to the SMA about my job,” Spc. Luis Torres-Garcia, a transportation management coordinator for the 1397th DDSB, said. “As a specialist, to get to brief the Sergeant Major of the Army was a once in a lifetime experience, but also it was a great opportunity to give him insight into what we do, and stress the importance of our job. I feel like he got a great picture of that today.”
For Torres-Garcia, the biggest impact of that moment was how genuine Grinston seemed.
“When we talked about the gate system and the Integrated Computerized Deployment System to describe the shipping process from loading to transit to unloading, what stuck out the most to me was that he cares about what we do, and wanted to get a clear picture of what we do so that he can support us and our operations and really get to know us as people and as Soldiers,” he said.
For Grinston’s last stop of the day and trip, he visited U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 335th Medical Company, 332nd Medical Brigade, 3rd Medical Command, who are here on Fort McCoy to support Pershing Strike 21 by providing lifelike and realistic training aides for medical and combat care injects.
“For me, it was quite an honor because it’s not just any sergeant major, it’s the Sergeant Major of the Army, and the fact that I was the one chosen to show him the work that we do here is truly special,” Spc. Javier Cosme, an Army mental health specialist for the 335th Medical Co., said. “As a unit, we’re very proud to get to meet the Sergeant Major of the Army, because there’s only been 16, so everybody was very excited that we were chosen to host him.”
As did throughout his trip on Fort McCoy, Grinston’s words of taking care of Soldiers rang the loudest.
“To me, what stuck out the most was when he talked about knowing the Soldier beside you, because sometimes we don’t really talk to our Soldiers and get to know them, which leads to us having outliers, but we can always do more.”