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William E. Cole BG William E. Cole

Commanding General, Natick Soldier Systems, Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering (ARDEC);



Brig. Gen. Cole assumed command of the Natick Soldier Systems Center on Dec. 5, 2013. He also serves as the Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. 

A native of Churchville, Md., he received his commission in 1987 from the United States Military Academy. His initial operational assignments were with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he first served as the fire support officer for Company C, 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He later served as battery fire direction officer and DIVARTY counter-fire officer. He served as executive officer of Battery C, 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

After moving to Germany, he served as the fire support officer for 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, and then as the DIVARTY fire direction officer for the 3rd Infantry Division. His last operational assignment was as commander, Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment in Bamberg, Germany.

The general joined the Acquisition Corps in 1996 and was assigned to the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. He later moved to the Joint Program Management Office, Lightweight 155mm Howitzer, where he served as the assistant program manager for the digital fire control system. 

Following assignments on the TRADOC and Department of the Army staffs, he returned to Picatinny Arsenal in 2004 and served as the product manager for the 'Excalibur' 155mm GPS-guided artillery projectile. Cole then served in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, where he was a program analyst and military deputy of the Acquisition Management Office. 

He served as project manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment from July 2009 to June 2012. During that time he made frequent trips to Natick to leverage the Soldier Systems Center's expertise in developing uniforms, body armor and parachutes. He then deployed to Afghanistan for 11 months as the director of forward operations for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition Logistics and Technology, and also for RDECOM. Cole most recently spent the last four months serving as the chief of staff at ASA(ALT).

He has earned a bachelor of science degree in Human Factors Psychology (Ergonomics) from USMA, a master of science degree in Systems Acquisition Management from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a master of science degree in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. His military education includes the Field Artillery Officer Basic and Advanced courses, Airborne, Ranger and Jumpmaster schools and the Command and General Staff College.
His awards and decorations include the Master Parachutist Badge, the Ranger Tab, the Army Staff Badge, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge, the Bronze Star Medal (with oak leaf cluster), the Legion of Merit (with oak leaf cluster) and the Defense Superior Service Medal.