News: TAC-1 chief of staff wears many hats
Story by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (April 25, 2013) -- Looking to distinguish themselves from other Soldiers before the Vietnam War, the 11th Air Assault Division cavalry scout pilots reached back to the 18th century and reintroduced the Stetson as the “Cav Hat.” The Stetson is not an issued item and is not covered in any uniform regulations but is currently worn by Cavalry troopers for ceremonies and special events.
The “Cav Hat” belonging to U.S. Army Lt. Col. William Nuckols, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., hangs next to an American flag adjacent to a burgundy and white University of Alabama flag in his office at Forward Operating Base Gamberi.
Nuckols wears different hats serving both as Tactical Action Center-1, chief of staff and as deputy brigade commander, for the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. He is also an adviser to the Afghan National Army, 201st Corps, chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Abdul Malik.
Soldiers and leaders from across the Long Knife team of the first security force assistance brigade were specifically chosen and trained for this advising mission.
This is Nuckol’s fourth deployment, but not his first time as an adviser. He commanded a Military Transition Team in Iraq, advising the 9th Iraqi Army Division commander.
“Before we deployed we knew our mission was to advise the Afghan Army and police in some capacity,” said Nuckols. “Upon arrival to FOB Gamberi I found out I was also going to be the chief of staff for the TAC-1.”
As both chief of staff for the TAC1 and deputy commanding officer for the SFAB, Nuckols’ responsibilities include assisting the TAC-1 senior adviser, Brig. Gen. Ronald Lewis, the 101st Airborne Division's deputy commanding general for support, manage a team of advisers help the SFAB to provide combat enablers for the ANA.
“We provide effects as needed; rotary wing support, air force aviation support, intelligence and other enablers, etc.,” said Nuckols.
Nuckols said the advise and assist role can be challenging at times but his mission here in Laghman province is going well.
“The brigade [4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.] is doing well due the exceptional leaders it has,” said Nuckols. “The brigade is disciplined and very competent. They are doing a good job bringing the ANA and Afghan police to the next level of professionalism, so that when we leave they will be completely self-sufficient.”
Nuckols has been in uniform in one way or another since 1986, having served in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, National Guard and the regular Army. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. of Armor as a Distinguished Military Graduate in May 1990. Nuckols graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelors of Science in Industrial Engineering in July 1992. He entered the active component of the U.S. Army in 1992.
Wearing the hat of advisor at FOB Gamberi, Nuckols spends several hours a week, with his counterpart, Brig. Gen. Malik. Nuckols said Malik is a very competent officer and a pleasure to work with, making the advising part of his job easy.
Malik said the advisers play an important role in support of the 201st Corps. They advise and assist in every aspect including aviation, training, command and control and combat training exercises.
“Our main objective, along with our counterparts, is to increase every aspect of the combat capability and capacity of the 201st Corps,” said Malik.
Pointing to his spit-shined black combat boots Malik said, “It starts from the boots, to the uniforms, all the way to coordinating operations, which are being planned and conducted by the 201st Corps.”
The general said he is lucky to have Nuckols as a mentor. Malik said they are both fighting the same enemy and share the same objectives.
“Our relationship is more than professional,” said Malik. “We are more like good brothers.”
The ANA chief of staff said Nuckols is a man of good character and hopes to hear that one day he is promoted to general.
“He is a very good leader, a very solid officer and a very smart officer for the United States Army ... I am very proud of him,” said Malik.
Nuckols said his favorite part of his job, something he doesn’t get to do often, is working with young soldiers and junior officers.
“This generation is very team oriented which is a little different than my generation,” he said.” “They make or break us; they determine whether or not we will be successful.”
In his opinion, he said the strength of the Army is family, adding that his deployments have made the relationship with his family stronger.
“Things that make me who I am are; my family, my love for my state and my love for the University of Alabama,” he said.
He and his wife, Julie, are both graduates of the University of Alabama. They met when they were both students and were married in 1990.
On May 1st, Nuckols will be promoted and will don his “Cav Hat” with the rank of colonel on it. Nuckols said he is both excited about and humbled by his upcoming promotion.