YPG Commander

Col. John Nelson 


COL John Nelson is the commander of U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. He entered active-duty service on 05 May 1995 serving as an Armor Crewman with the 1st Battalion 12th Cavalry Regiment. He went on to serve as a Tank Gunner with 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. Next, COL Nelson was assigned to 1st Battalion 81st Armor Regiment as a Tank Commander and Drill Sergeant. Following that assignment, COL Nelson graduated from Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as an Armor officer in September 2002. His first duty assignment was with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division where he served as both a Tank and Scout Platoon Leader, deploying to Baghdad, Iraq in support Operation Iraqi Freedom II. Following his assignment with the 1st Cavalry Division, COL Nelson attended the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course (MCCC), Fort Knox, Kentucky.

After completing the MCCC, COL Nelson served as Assistant Operations Officer for the Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. He then served as Commander, D Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment deploying to Abu Ghraib, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08.

Following command, COL Nelson served as the Operations Officer, 2nd Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Training Brigade, USA Armor Center. COL Nelson was next assigned as a Company Trainer for the Light Task Force Training Team, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA. Following this assignment, COL Nelson attended the Army Acquisition Basic Course, Army Intermediate Program Management Course, and Army Intermediate Contracting Course. He completed Command and General Staff College in December 2013 and is Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level III Certified in Program Management. COL Nelson is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College with a Master of Strategic Studies.

COL Nelson’s past acquisition assignments include: Test Officer, Maneuver Test Directorate, Operational Test Command; Assistant Product Manager for Crew Served Weapons and Remote Weapon Stations, Project Manager Soldier Weapons, Program Executive Office Soldier; Evaluation Officer for the C4ISR Evaluation Directorate, Army Evaluation Center; Senior Acquisition Advisor for the Soldier and Support Systems Evaluation Directorate, Army Evaluation Center; and Product Manager Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Systems Integration, Joint Program Office JLTV, Program Executive Office Combat Support & Combat Service Support.

COL Nelson’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Purple Heart Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with six oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with nine Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Valorous Unit Award, the Meritorious Unit Citation, the Army Superior Unit Award, the Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Drill Sergeant Identification Badge, and the Orders of St. George and St. Maurice.

COL Nelson is married to the former Miss Gina Richards and has one child.