Fort Polk welcomes Nielson as senior enlisted soldier

Published 12:13 pm Thursday, January 13, 2022

An Assumption of Responsibility ceremony was held at Fort Polk recently to welcome Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen R. Nielson as incoming garrison command sergeant major.

Nielson will serve as as the senior enlisted soldier in the unit and the principal advisor to the commander. A passing of the colors was held during the event, representing the lineage and honor of the unit that Nielson will lead.

During the ceremony, Fort Polk Garrison Commander Col. Samuel P. Smith Jr., whom Nielson will serve alongside, welcomed Nielson to the Vernon Parish installation and said Fort Polk was lucky to have a great leader like Nielson.

“I have no doubt that (Nielson’s) leadership, experience, professionalism, competence, counsel and commitment will help us form an effective command team. We are going to rely on him heavily. I anticipate that, together, we will be a force to be reckoned with,” Smith said.

Smith said the garrison at JRTC and Fort Polk has a dynamic mission full of complexities, challenges and opportunities they would tackle together.

“I’m glad to have you become a part of a professional garrison team that puts our soldiers, civilians and family members first,” Smith said.

Nielson said he appreciated the warm welcome he had received from the Fort Polk community and was thankful for being selected to serve the installation.

“It is truly an honor and humbling. Not lost on me is the understanding of the level of responsibility that comes with this role. It is my job to ensure the senior commander and garrison commander’s vision, priorities and intent are achieved while simultaneously advocating for soldiers, families and our civilian workforce. I look forward to serving them, as well as the surrounding community, as we work together to improve the quality of life here on the installation,” Nielson said.

Nielson is a native of Riverside, Calif. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 1993 as an armored reconnaissance specialist and graduated One Station Unit Training at Fort Knox, Ky. His combat tours of duty include two tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and two tours in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

He comes to Fort Polk from Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he served as a facilitator for the Battalion Command Sergeants Major Development Program.