Most recently, he served as the Commanding Officer of Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) 91112 in New Orleans, Louisiana, from June 2017 to May 2021.
MSST New Orleans is a rapidly deployable Coast Guard security team that was established after 9/11 to provide maritime anti-terrorism and force protection in the U.S. strategic ports and waterways. The team has also provided nationwide Presidential maritime security support to U.S. Secret Service, seized more than $53 million worth of drugs during joint interdictions with the U.S. Navy, and saved 36 lives while conducting search and rescue patrols along the Rio Grande River in support of U.S. Customs and Border Protection during the 2019 humanitarian crisis at the southwest border. During Hurricane Harvey, the team saved 961 survivors while conducting catastrophic incident search and rescue missions in support of FEMA and local authorities across southeast Texas.
He has worked across the spectrum of homeland security and maritime response including maritime security, law enforcement, defense operations, search and rescue, incident management, and environmental response. McGrail previously served at the cabinet level on the DHS Office of Policy's coordination team for the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign and in the DHS National Operations Center on the watch team. In the Coast Guard’s National Command Center, he provided national-level interagency coordination for the National Incident Commander throughout the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response in the Gulf of Mexico.
In the field, he has extensive preparedness, response, and recovery experience for major hurricanes, National Special Security Events, and other marine events of national significance including Hurricane Sandy and the 57th Presidential Inauguration. As the Officer in Charge of a tactical Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET), McGrail has deployed globally with the U.S. Navy in support Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and conducted many high-risk counter-drug operations. Under his supervision, LEDETs have trained Iraqi, Saudi, and Bahraini coalition forces in the Arabian Gulf, captured 54 Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, interdicted $2 billion worth of cocaine in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean, and conducted a high-profile interdiction of a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel that ultimately led to the conviction of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, the former leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel. In 2009, the team was presented the Golden Eagle Award by the White House Drug Czar for being the nation’s top counter-drug unit.
McGrail is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM®), a Type 3 Incident Commander, and a NIMS certified Type 1 Operations Section Chief. He is also a Cohort 1 alumnus of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative's (NPLI) Emerging Leaders in Crisis program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and is an alumnus of the Leadership in Crisis executive education program at Harvard Kennedy School.
He earned an Executive Master of Professional Studies in Emergency and Disaster Management from Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies where he was the recipient of the Tropaia Outstanding Student Award. McGrail is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a B.S. in Government, the U.S. Naval War College with an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies and holds an Executive Certificate in Public Leadership from Harvard Kennedy School.
He has been an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University since January 2019.
McGrail has also served as a Military Social Aide to President Barack Obama, as a Military Mentor in the U.S. Senate Youth Program and in several other student mentorship programs within the Maryland, District of Columbia, and Louisiana public school systems