NATICK, Mass. (Dec. 5, 2013) -- Brig. Gen. William E. Cole assumed command of the Natick Soldier Systems Center in a Dec. 5 ceremony at NSSC's Hunter Auditorium.

Cole also serves as deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

"I think it's fitting that the Army have an active-duty general officer stationed here in the state where the Army was born," Cole said. "As the only active-duty general officer stationed north of New York City and east of the Hudson River, I look forward to representing our Army here in Massachusetts, as well as in the surrounding New England states.

"The state motto of Massachusetts, translated from the Latin, is, 'By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty. That is a fitting motto for a great state, and it could also apply to the work done by the team here at Natick and throughout the Research, Development and Engineering Command."

Cole pointed out that Army military scientists and engineers are developing better "swords" for future battles.

"They are doing this in the hopes that by equipping our Soldiers with the best weapons and equipment in the world, we might deter war," said Cole, "but failing that, that our warfighters will be victorious, and thereby able to secure a lasting peace with liberty.

"I know first-hand that the advances made here at Natick, along with their industry and academic partners, saves Soldiers' lives on the battlefield with better concealment and much better body armor and ballistic protection."

As Cole noted, that critical work is being done in an era of uncertainty.

"Our country has many fiscal and budgetary pressures, and the resulting reductions in the Army budget will make our job more challenging," Cole said. "But the Army leadership has recognized the vital importance of maintaining a technological edge over our adversaries, and I'm confident that the RDECOM team will continue to develop the technology that our Soldiers need to remain dominant on the battlefield."

In his most recent assignment, Cole was chief of staff in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology). He worked closely with the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center from 2009 to 2012, when he was Product Manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment.

"I know that he looks forward to being a part of the team that makes a difference in the lives of our Soldiers every day," said Dale Ormond, RDECOM director, who hosted the ceremony. "He has experienced first-hand the world-class work done here not only as an acquisition officer, but also as an artillery officer at places such as Fort Bragg, in Germany, and while deployed to Operation Desert Storm."

In a congratulatory letter to Cole, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick wrote: "As I'm sure you can already see, the highly educated and talented workforce supporting Natick's vital mission provide the Armed Forces and partners in academia and industry with cutting-edge innovation and other advantages that truly make a difference in the lives of our Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen."

Prior to his assumption of command, Cole met with local media and spoke enthusiastically about coming to Natick.

"I was really delighted to get this assignment," Cole said. "I've worked closely with Natick before, with the other labs in RDECOM, and to be able to be part of that team again is just a real thrill to me. I know the talented people that work here, and I look forward to working with them more closely."

A U.S. Military Academy graduate whose family has deep Massachusetts roots, Cole has served in the Army for more than 26 years. He is married and has four children.