An entry-level colonel? For those with the right cybersecurity skills, it could happen, general says
By DAMON CLINE | The Augusta Chronicle/Tribune News Service | Published: May 11, 2018
It took 20 years for Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner to reach the rank of colonel. In the not-too-distant future, that rank could be an entry-level position for those with the right cybersecurity skills, she said Thursday at cyber conference in Augusta, Ga.
"That's pretty extraordinary, and it represents a huge cultural shift to our Army," said Buckner, who heads the Army's cyber policy and strategy at U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Md.
Buckner, who helped create and lead the U.S. Army Cyber School at Fort Gordon's Cyber Center of Excellence from 2014 to 2016, was the keynote speaker at the second annual Invest Augusta conference, which aims to bolster metro Augusta's growing cybersecurity industry.
Buckner was promoted earlier this year to her current position — officially known as director of Army Cyber, G-3/5/7 — from deputy commander of Joint Task Force-ARES, the offensive force countering the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
She said direct commissioning of talented cybersecurity and electronic warfare professionals is just one of the ways the Army is becoming more entrepreneurial.
"We are breaking all sorts of glass here in the Army," she said. "I've used what the private sector does — what you do on a daily basis with your talent — to model some of these programs."
Army Cyber Command is in the process of relocating from Fort Belvoir, Va., to Fort Gordon. Buckner said the primary question her Washington-area colleagues have about Augusta is the availability of jobs for their spouses and the quality of education for their children. She said cyber is "very much a family business."
"The spouses who are in our military families and their children, they are increasingly employed in the same line of work, even if they're not wearing the uniform," she said. "Most of my counterparts, if they don't have a son or daughter in the service, they are getting degrees in cybersecurity and continuing that line of work. So the high-end workforce that this region is increasingly attracting as a part of Army Cyber's movement down here should not be lost on any of you."
U.S. Cyber Command last week was elevated to the Department of Defense's 10th unified combatant command, and its new leader, Army Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, getting promoted to a four-star general. Nakasone had been in line to head Army Cyber Command at Fort Gordon.
His replacement, Maj. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, a former commanding general for Fort Gordon's Cyber Center of Excellence and chief of staff for U.S. Cyber Command since 2016, has been confirmed as Army Cyber Command's next commander.
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