He is a career military officer serving on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Deployable Specialized Forces.
McGrail currently serves as the Commanding Officer of Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) 91112 in New Orleans, Louisiana. MSST New Orleans is one of the Coast Guard’s rapidly deployable security teams that were created after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 to provide maritime anti-terrorism and force protection in the U.S. strategic ports and waterways. The team provides Presidential maritime security support to U.S. Secret Service in Mar-a-Lago, New York City, Washington, D.C., and across the nation. As one of the Coast Guard’s premiere tactical and pursuit boat teams, they also seized more than $90 million worth of drugs during joint interdictions with the U.S. Navy in 2018 and 2019. During the historic 2017 hurricane season, his team conducted shallow water and urban search and rescue missions saving more than 960 survivors during the peak days of flooding across Southeast Texas from Hurricane Harvey and also reconstituted the port in Key West, Florida, from Hurricane Irma. In response to the humanitarian crisis at the southwest border, he and his team have assisted U.S. Customs and Border Protection by providing maritime patrols and search and rescue along the Rio Grande.
For the past 15 years, McGrail has worked across the spectrum of homeland security and maritime response to threats and hazards at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels including drug and migrant interdiction, maritime security, defense operations, search and rescue, incident management, and environmental response. McGrail has served at the cabinet level at the DHS National Operations Center and Crisis Action Team as well as at the DHS Office of Policy as a member of the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Coordination Cell coordinating the border security activities of the DHS Joint Task Forces. In the Coast Guard’s National Command Center, he provided national-level interagency coordination for the tsunami in American Samoa, the 7.0 earthquake response in Haiti, and for the National Incident Commander throughout the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response in the Gulf of Mexico.
In the field, McGrail has served as a NIMS/ICS Type 3 Incident Commander, Type 1 Operations Section Chief, and other incident management roles. His experience also includes the responses to Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, National Special Security Events in the National Capital Region, and other major marine events. As 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 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, and interdicted $2 billion worth of cocaine from go-fasts in the Caribbean Sea and semi-submersible drug smuggling vessels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean belonging to Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera.
McGrail graduated from the Executive Master of Professional Studies in Emergency and Disaster Management degree program at Georgetown University where he was the recipient of the Tropaia Outstanding Student Award. He also graduated from 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. McGrail is a member of Cohort I of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative's (NPLI) Emerging Leaders in Crisis program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School and is an alumnus of the Leadership in Crisis program at Harvard Kennedy School's Program on Crisis Leadership.
He has served as a Military Social Aide to President Barack Obama and has volunteered as a Military Mentor in the U.S. Senate Youth Program as well as a student mentor at César Chávez Public Charter Schools in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore Public Schools.