Command Sgt. Maj. Garth D. Newell accepts the unit's colors from Col. Joseph Messina, the installation's commander, during the assumption of responsibility ceremony. (Photo by Cameron Delean/InsideNoVa)

USAG Fort Belvoir taps newest Command Sergeant Major

Fort Belvoir named Garth D. Newell its newest command sergeant major with an assumption of responsibility ceremony on May 19.

Newell is taking over as the installation’s top non-commissioned officer from Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hopkins, who became interim command sergeant major in January after the retirement of ​​Sgt. Maj. Gregory M. Kleinholz.

“I’m not sure he yet understands what that means, because when I took command, I did not in any way understand what it means to be a part of the command team for a garrison and understand what a garrison does,” said Col. Joseph Messina, Fort Belvoir's Garrison Commander. “It is like running a small city when we talk about the garrison here at Fort Belvoir…it’s a lot more than just a bunch of barracks.”

Messina noted that Belvoir has 2,200 homes and 10,000 residents. “It’s taking care of an entire community.”

Newell is a native of McCleary, Wash., and enlisted in 1996. His first assignment was with the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, 111th Military Intelligence Brigade at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. He was deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and later to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Newell has held several leadership positions, including team sergeant, first sergeant and command sergeant major at the battalion and brigade levels, as well as senior enlisted leader in a joint environment.

His military education includes Advanced Noncommissioned Officers Course, First Sergeant Course and the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, the Command Sergeants Major Pre-Command Course and the Intelligence Sergeants Major course. Newell has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and French from Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y.

His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Superior Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge and the Military Intelligence Corps Association Knowlton Award.

During the ceremony, Hopkins passed the unit’s colors to Messina, relinquishing his responsibilities as interim commander sergeant major, and Messina then passed the colors to Newell, signifying his new responsibility and authority.

“I’m proud and honored to just be here,” Newell said. “I know and understand that I have big shoes to fill, and I have no problem doing that. I’ll give it my best shot.”


Cameron Delean, InsideNoVa