Willie Nelson, SES
Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S Army, Research and Technology
2023 Pacific Operational Science & Technology (POST) Conference : INNOVATION ACQUISITION SERVICE CHIEFS PANEL
Mr. Nelson is a member of the Senior Executive Service and serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology / Army Chief Scientist, under the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics & Technology). He is the principal advisor to the Secretary of the Army on Science and Technology and provides strategic direction and oversight of basic, applied, and advanced technology development for all Army laboratories, research, development and engineering centers—comprising programs aross Army Futures Command, Army Research Institute, Army Corps of Engineers and Space and Missile Defense Technical Center with a combined annual budget of approximately $3 billion.
Prior to this assignment, Mr Nelson was the Director of the Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/Space (APNT/Space) Cross-Functional Team (CFT), Army Futures Command (AFC). He was responsible for accelerating the development and delivery of advanced APNT, Tactical Space and Electronic Warfare capabilities. Working across the Army Modernization Enterprise, his team informed technology and system requirements through continuous experimentation and prototyping, technology integration and Soldier feedback and delivered next generation weapons, vehicles and equipment to the field at an unprecediented rate.
Prior to joining Army Futures Command, Mr Nelson served as the Director, Programs and Technology at the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command / Army Forces Stratgic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT), where he directed research, development and test programs for all space, missile defense, directed energy and hypersonic weapon technologies. He also served as the Deputy Director and Director of Space and Strategic Systems at the SMDC Technical Center and served as the Acting Deputy Chief of Staff G-3/4 for Current Operations at US Army Materiel Command.
Mr Nelson previously served 13 years at the Missile Defense Agency, where he led Agency-level program and technical integration of the Ballistic Missile Defense System as MDA’s Deputy Chief Engineer. He also served as the Chief Engineer for the Targets and Countermeasures Office, where he led the development, acquisition and test of all air and ground-launched missile and re-entry systems. Previously as the Director for Mission Management & Integration, he lead mission management, test planning and readiness activities for all MDA flight and ground testing.
Mr. Nelson earned a U.S. Air Force commission through ROTC at the University of Texas at Austin, and retired as a Space and Missile Officer after 20 years of combined active duty and reserve service. His operational deployments include Operations Northern Watch, Noble Eagle, and Enduring Freedom. He is a graduate of Harvard’s Senior Executives in National and International Security and Oxford’s Advanced Management & Leadership Programs.