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News | Aug. 3, 2023

DCMA veteran, Army colonel takes command of Central Region

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Central Public Affairs

Army Col. Kenneth Darnall became the commander of the Defense Contract Management Agency Central Region during a change of leadership ceremony in Schaumburg, Illinois, July 27.

Darnall replaced Calvin Bailey, the region’s deputy director, who served in the leadership position for the past year.

DCMA Director Army Lt. Gen. David Bassett said during the ceremony that Darnall, who has had multiple assignments within the agency, will be an asset to the region.

“I am confident in Ken’s ability to lead the team well,” said Bassett. “I am also glad he will continue to be a part of the DCMA family.”

Darnall has served in the Army for 24 years. He is an aviator who transitioned into the Army Acquisition Corps in 2009. He joined the DCMA team in 2012 as an administrative contracting officer at DCMA Boeing Mesa, Arizona, and after that assignment, he deployed for a six-month tour in Afghanistan through DCMA International. He later served as the executive officer at DCMA headquarters. In 2016, Darnall became the commander of DCMA Aircraft Integrated Maintenance Operations at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Prior to becoming the Central Region commander, he was the commander at DCMA Boeing Philadelphia.

Darnall’s unique DCMA journey includes serving in Western, International, Eastern, and now Central Region, as well as at the headquarters level and AIMO. His diverse agency resume places him in a select class with few organizational parallels.

As the commander of the DCMA Central Region, Darnall will oversee nine contract management offices that provide acquisition support to the Department of Defense and more than $500 billion in contracts across 23 states. Central Region supports a variety of programs, including missiles, numerous aircraft such as the F-35 Lightning II and F/18 Super Hornet, and military land systems such as the Abrams Main Battle Tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

“The Central Region is a team of trusted professionals and Mr. Bailey’s leadership has been phenomenal during the last year,” said Darnall. “I look forward to working with all of you, and I’m humbled by the trust that has been given to me to continue to provide the outstanding leadership and direction that’s been established under Mr. Bailey’s leadership.”

Bailey thanked region staff and the DCMA leaders for supporting him during his tenure as acting director. He reminded employees to stay focused on the mission because they support warfighters like his son, Brandon, who is an Army sergeant in the Texas National Guard.

“I want to thank the men and women of the Central Region,” said Bailey. “I appreciate the professionalism that you extended to me. This is a fantastic team and one of the best in the agency.”

Bailey, who served in the Army for almost 30 years, has filled a variety of positions within the agency. He previously served as the DCMA Dallas commander from 2010 to 2013. After retiring from the Army, he served as the DCMA Detroit deputy director and later transferred as the deputy director position at DCMA Bell in Fort Worth, Texas, before becoming the Central Region’s deputy director.

Darnall and Bailey emphasized the importance of teamwork in a hybrid work environment to get the mission accomplished. Darnall will be based at DCMA Huntsville, Alabama, instead of Arlington Heights, Illinois, where the region headquarters is located. Bassett noted the location would be ideal since the Army has multiple customers in Huntsville who Darnall can interact with face-to-face while also being closer to his family in Florida.

“We recruit soldiers, but we retain families,” said Bassett.

Darnall has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Montana. He has a Master of Science degree in management from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University.

Darnall said he enjoyed working for DCMA and had learned a lot during his time with the agency.

“I truly believe in and love the DCMA mission,” he said. “I am excited to move forward with all of you to best serve our most important customers – our warfighters.”

Darnall shared some interesting facts about himself to his new staff, including his experience as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, his love of fly fishing, and his first degree black belt in Taekwondo.

Prior to the change of leadership ceremony, Central Region leaders met July 25-26 with leaders from around the agency for a Central Region performance review to discuss a variety of topics, including the State of the Region, support to Ukraine, information technology initiatives, and various business tools for the workforce such as the Resource Workload Model and Product Data Reporting and Evaluation Program, also known as PDREP.

The leaders discussed how to recruit and retain employees and opportunities to help them learn new skills, such as applying for, and participating in, the Centralized Development Program. In addition, personnel discussed Vision 2026, which will prepare the agency’s workforce to become more efficient and effective in supporting customers.