The Army chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, has approved what officials are describing as one of the most significant reorganizations in American intelligence – a plan that will consolidate all U.S. cyberspace training into a new center of excellence at Fort Gordon.
The restructuring plan – confirmed by the Army on Monday – is the first step in a detailed outline of changes that will decide where a military that is scheduled to shrink by 80,000 soldiers will live and train for years to come.
Specifically, the Army plans to create a Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon that will “unify and modernize” all cyber-related training efforts, including those that teach how to use electronic-warfare technology to track electromagnetic activity worldwide, Army officials said.
Because the plan is still being discussed by senior leadership at the Pentagon, officials at Fort Gordon could not comment on the matter Monday. However, Ray Harp, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, said Army Secretary John McHugh is expected to approve the measure soon.
“We are waiting on the Department of Army to make its final decision and give us the green light to move forward,” Harp said.
Since late June, federal leaders have advocated that expanding cyber training operations at Fort Gordon – which also houses a National Security Agency cryptology lab – is necessary for the Army to offset the 21st century’s “emerging cyber threat” and in turn, accomplish its main goal of becoming more “lethal, agile, adaptable and responsive.”
Georgia’s U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, in addition to U.S. Reps. John Barrow, Jack Kingston and Paul Broun have led discussions to move the Army Cyber Command, currently split between Fort Meade and Fort Belvoir, Va., to Fort Gordon.
In addition, Gen. Robert W. Cone, the Army’s training and doctrine commander, has publicly called for a cyber center of excellence at Fort Gordon and a special career path for soldiers based solely around cyber intelligence.
Preparations for the latter are underway, and a cyber center of excellence, which would incorporate the current signal center of excellence, might soon follow.
Last month, Odierno announced Fort Gordon will likely grow by about 250 soldiers as a result of a five-year restructuring in the Army that will result in the elimination of 80,000 soldiers and 12 brigade combat teams.
Though no details are currently available on when the additional soldiers might arrive or how they might be distributed at Fort Gordon, Maj. Gen. LaWarren V. Patterson, the commanding general of the Army Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, said the small increase is evidence of the importance of the work being done at the Army post.
“As we move into the future, signal and cyber capabilities become an even more critical component of our defense strategy and infrastructure,” Patterson said in a prior media release. “Stationing additional soldiers here provides evidence of the importance of Fort Gordon in the Army’s future, and evidence of the Army’s confidence in our efforts today.”