Brig. Gen. William E. Cole became the RDECOM deputy commanding general and Natick Soldier Systems Center senior commander in December 2013.

A native of Churchville, Maryland, he received his commission in 1987 from the U.S. Military Academy. His initial operational assignments were with the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. 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 final operational assignment was as commander, Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment in Bamberg, Germany.

After joining the Acquisition Corps in 1996, Cole 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.

After 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. Before coming to RDECOM, Cole served four months as ASA(ALT) chief of staff.

Cole 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.


The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.