Nicholas Charles is the new Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at White Sands Missile Range. He took some time to answer some questions to introduce himself to the WSMR Community.
Where are you from and where is home for you?
I’m originally from Trinidad and Tobago. I grew up in Washington D.C. and I left after I graduated from Howard University in 1986. Wherever my family is, is home for me and right now that’s White Sands Missile Range.
Tell me about yourself?
I was raised in Washington D.C. and went to catholic schools all my life. I went to Howard University for my undergrad and the University of Oklahoma for grad school. My wife is from Panama City, Panama, where I was stationed. I have a three children; Nicholas, Kelsey and Megan, who’s here at WSMR. I was stationed in Camp Zama, Japan, for nine and a half years where I served as the Deputy of Operations, the Chief of the Operations Training Division, and as the Operationas Plans and Transformation Specialist.
When you were younger what did you aspire to be?
An attorney but then I fell in love with the Army. My brother was a Vietnam Marine Corps Infantryman and initially I wanted to be a Marine Corps Officer but he guided me to be an Army Officer. It just so happened that when I was walking through college, thinking about joining the Army, a recruiter approached me. What made me fall in love with the Army was the diverse group of people I met and befriended from around the world, including my wife from Panama.
What led you to the Army?
I always wanted to be a military officer, I thought I’d go into JAG Corps but I fell in love with infantry. I enjoyed leading Soldiers. I commanded the Mechanical Infantry Co. in Schweinfurt, Germany. I then went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that was probably the most exciting part in my military life when I transitioned into the Science Operations program. In doing that I deployed to Bosnia in 1995 and conducted Joint Operations in Saudi Arabia. I also conducted demining operations in Ethiopia and counter-drug operations in Peru. I also deployed into Afghanistan with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan.
What have you learned from your previous leadership roles?
That dignity and respect goes up and goes down and as a leader the Army values apply whether you’re in uniform or as a civilian. There are more than words as a leaders, there is behavior, character and professionalism. Treat people fairly and as you want to be treated. Reward when needed, council when appropriate and always mentor.
What do you and your family like to do for fun?
Go to the beach and travel. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has been our favorite so far but Puerto Rico is not bad.
What do you like to do for fun?
I’m currently in a doctoral program, so most of my time has been dedicated to doing that now. My wife is my best friend so whatever we do together is what I consider fun. I used to be into weight training but the doctoral program has taken up a lot of that time now. I’m currently in my second year of the program. I also love history.
What led you to your field?
I’ve been doing operations my entire military career whether infantry, psychological or civil affairs. I’ve been doing operations for over 30 years.
How do you feel about WSMR?
Coming from Tokyo, Japan, to WSMR was a culture shock. I was welcomed by three coyotes and scorpions, however, it’s a small community that’s very close knit and very similar to the experience I had in Japan with respect to living on a small installation. I live on base with a view of the Organ Mountains, it’s beautiful. I really think this is God’s country. Long answer short, I like it.
What do you hope to accomplish while you’re here?
I understand the term the WSMR way, I hear it quite often, but I bring a perspective of the Army’s way. As I develop the G-3 I hope to put in place some policies and procedures that improve staffing, coordination and operations, based off of the Army doctrine, and incorporating some WSMR ways into this process, the ones that make sense.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I look forward to my time here. I plan to see some of the sites. I’m very interested in the Buffalo Soldier Battle that took place here and I’d like to plan a staff ride to go see it.