By JON HARPER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 30, 2015
WASHINGTON — Daniel Dailey was sworn in Friday as the new sergeant major of the Army, becoming the service chief’s top adviser on matters affecting enlisted soldiers.
He takes over the post at a time of transition for the Army. The force is emerging from more than 13 years of warfare, and is facing major troop level cuts and budget restrictions that are already impacting servicemembers and their families.
Dailey is no stranger to the challenges facing the troops. He enlisted in 1989 and became an infantryman. Early in his career he participated in Operation Desert Storm, and later went on four overseas deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. He was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for valor for his actions with the Army’s 4th Infantry Division during the fighting in Sadr City at the height of the insurgency in Iraq.
“I’ve trained and fought with those soldiers [I’ll be representing],” Dailey said during an interview with Stars and Stripes in his new office.
Prior to becoming sergeant major of the Army, he served as command sergeant major of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command.
“He brings this broad experience of both understanding the institutional side as well as the tactical and operational side” of the force, Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno said during the swearing-in ceremony at the Pentagon. “In my mind, there’s no one more qualified to take on the responsibility and the challenges that our Army faces in the future.”
Dailey, a native of Palmerton, Pa. said he didn’t seem destined for leadership when he was young.
“I was just somewhere in the middle of the class [academically],” he told the audience. “I played high school sports but I wasn’t a superstar athlete … By all accounts I was just a poor average kid from northeastern Pennsylvania.”
He credits others for molding him into someone who could rise to the top.
“How does the middle of the road guy make it to this rank, to wear this rank, to represent the finest fighting force the world has known? The answer is simple … It’s leadership. Leadership from great soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and officers that I served with over the years,” he said.
“Leadership is not born, it’s built over time. It takes great leaders to build leaders, and I’m merely a product of the best the Army has ever had to offer. It is no less their achievement that Dan Dailey is the 15th sergeant major of the Army.”
Many of Dailey’s mentors were at the ceremony, including former company, brigade and division commanders. Dailey honored them all by name.
“These professionals took a poor kid off the streets of a zinc town in northeastern Pennsylvania and built him into the soldier you see today. So Gen. Odierno, if I mess this up now you know exactly who needs to be held accountable,” Dailey joked.
Dailey used his own life story to encourage others who might not stand out in their early lives and careers.
“Any soldier in today’s Army, even an average soldier like [I was], has the potential to be an Army senior leader someday,” he said. “It just requires two things: great leadership and a strong Army family.”
Dailey replaces Raymond Chandler, who is retiring from the service.
Gen. Ray Odierno applauds during a swearing-in ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. on Jan. 30, 2015, as Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey became the 15th Sergeant Major of the Army.
CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES