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Maj. Gen. Edward C. Cardon sees great opportunities in the location of Army Cyber Command at Fort Gordon, Ga.,
Maj. Gen. Edward C. Cardon sees great opportunities in the location of Army Cyber Command at Fort Gordon, Ga., (Army)

The Army is ramping up cyber operations, including efforts that are gaining momentum since Army officials in December announced the service’s cyber component would be headquartered at Fort Gordon, Ga.

The headquarters’ location alongside other key government cyber facilities cements the positioning strategy, a move by the Army secretary that Maj. Gen. Edward Cardon, commander of Army Cyber Command, called “a quite courageous decision, I thought, in a tough political environment.”

The National Security Agency maintains a presence at Fort Gordon, and the Army will have additional cyber-focused organizations onsite as well.

“This is going to give us some unbelievable synergy,” Cardon said May 28 at the AFCEA DC Cyber Summit in Washington. “First, you have NSA-Georgia there and our headquarters will be next to NSA-Georgia inside the compound. The second thing is the Army made a decision to stand up the Cyber Center of Excellence, which is the institutional side of the Army; it’s co-located at Fort Gordon. In fact it’s the only place you see the institutional side of the Army co-located with its operational component.”

Fort Gordon is also home to the 7th Signal Command, which maintains Army network operations in the contiguous U.S. and houses a number of intelligence units, Cardon added.

“So when you look at it all together – putting a lot of people in the right place together who are highly talented – there’s some real synergy here that I think you’re going to see,” he said, noting that the completion timeline likely will be 2018, after his tenure concludes.

In total, U.S. Cyber Command is set to gain 6,000 trained cyber professionals in the next two years, roughly 2,000 of which will come from the Army. Cardon said the Army is about halfway to that goal, and he expects to have all of those teams operational by 2016. The service also is in the process of integrating cyber analysts and operators under the centralized Army cyber organization, he added.

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The moves are part of broader Army-wide and Defense Department-wide plans to build up the military’s presence in cyberspace. And while all of the branches are training to a CyberCom-issued standard, the Army contributions will differ from those of the other services.

“We’re going to have teams that work at every geographic command. We’ll be the only service organized like that, but I think it’s going to bring huge capability along with our theater signal commands that are also providing a network around the world,” Cardon said. “That’s going to combine with [Defense Information Systems Agency efforts]…and that’s going to become a lot more efficient over time. But the bottom line is we’ll have a global reach out there.”

Cardon expects that the Army eventually will spin out a full, separate Army branch dedicated to cyber, a change that he acknowledged is likely to face significant hurdles but will be critical to ironing out the cyber-staffing challenges faced across DoD.

“What this will allow us to do is create a separate career field that will manage the leader-development and talent management for this organization,” Cardon said. “This has been talked about for a long time – the last branch that was created out of the Army was either aviation or special operations. We haven’t done this since the early 80s. So it’s going to be a little painful; we’re going to be breaking some china. But at the end of that we will be much better able to manage the cyber workforce.”

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