An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Maj. Gen. Paul D. Nielsen is Commander, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He directs the Air Force's $1.7 billion science and technology budget plus an additional $1.3 billion from the laboratory's customers. Approximately 9,500 people in the laboratory's component technology directorates and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research execute the science and technology program. He also is the Air Force's technology executive officer and determines the investment strategy for the full spectrum of Air Force science and technology activities. The general plans basic research to ensure continued technological superiority; develops and transitions new technologies for Air Force weapon systems and their supporting infrastructure; and ensures responsive technical support to time-urgent problems.

General Nielsen entered the Air Force in 1972 as a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has served in various jobs at headquarters level and in the field. He served at three product centers and three laboratories, including assignments at the Secretary of the Air Force's Office of Special Projects and the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

General Nielsen was a military assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Commander of Rome Laboratory. He was Operations Chief for the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center and Director of Plans for the North American Aerospace Defense Command. Prior to his current assignment, General Nielsen served as Vice Commander of the Aeronautical Systems Center. The ASC is the Air Force's largest product center responsible for developing fighters, bombers, transports, reconnaissance aircraft, training systems and unmanned aerospace vehicles.

1972 Bachelor of science degree in physics and mathematics, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
1973 Master of science degree in applied science, University of California, Davis
1977 Master of business administration degree, University of New Mexico
1981 Doctor of philosophy in plasma physics, University of California, Davis
1989 National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.

1. September 1973 - May 1975, physicist, National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, Md.
2. May 1975 - November 1975, student, undergraduate pilot training, Williams AFB, Ariz.
3. November 1975 - August 1977, systems programs management officer for nuclear technologies, Air Force Weapons Laboratory, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
4. August 1977 - February 1978, aide to the commander, Air Force Systems Command, Andrews AFB, Md.
5. March 1978 - August 1978, space systems procurement management officer, Headquarters AFSC, Andrews AFB, Md.
6. September 1978 - June 1981, military research associate, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Department of Energy, Livermore, Calif.
7. June 1981 - December 1984, Assistant Chief, Advanced Systems; Chief, Satellite Attitude Control Branch; later, Chief, Satellite Engineering Division, Secretary of the Air Force Office of Special Projects, Los Angeles Air Force Station, Calif.
8. December 1984 - February 1985, System Program Director, Command Center Processing and Display System - Replacement Program, Electronic Systems Division, Hanscom AFB, Mass.
9. February 1985 - September 1987, Program Director, Space Defense Operations Center Phase 4 Program, ESD, Hanscom AFB, Mass.
10. September 1987 - August 1988, Chief Engineer, Strategic Systems Deputate, ESD, Hanscom AFB, Mass.
11. August 1988 - June 1989, student, National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
12. June 1989 - July 1992, Military Assistant to the Director of Strategic and Theater Nuclear Forces, C3, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, C3I, Washington, D.C.
13. July 1992 - March 1995, Commander, Rome Laboratory, Griffiss AFB, N.Y.
14. March 1995 - May 1997, Command Director, later, Chief of Operations, Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center, Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, Colo.
18. May 1997 - June 1999, Director of Plans, Headquarters North American Aerospace Defense Command, Peterson AFB, Colo.
19. June 1999 - April 2000, Vice Commander, Aeronautical Systems Center, AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
20. April 2000 - present, Commander, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal

2002 H.H. Arnold Award for Excellence in Aeronautical Program Management, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
2004 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Fellow
2004 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement

Second Lieutenant June 7, 1972
First Lieutenant June 7, 1974
Captain June 7, 1976
Major Nov. 1, 1981
Lieutenant Colonel March 1, 1986
Colonel Oct. 1, 1989
Brigadier General Sept. 1, 1997
Major General Aug. 1, 2001

(Current as of August 2004)