The Army is still several years away from moving its Cyber Command headquarters to Fort Gordon, but its impact has beenfelt throughout Augusta in 2016.
Local institutions such as Augusta University and Aiken Technical College have expanded their curriculum since the Pentagon announced in 2013 plans to move the U.S. Army Cyber Command from Fort Meade, Md., to Fort Gordon. In a related area, AU signed an articulation agreement with NSA’s National Cryptologic School to give a pilot class of 25 military personnel at Augusta’s NSA intelligence-gathering facility the chance to earn bachelor’s degrees in one of four career tracks, such as political science and international relations.
University officials said the agreement strengthens the bond between the institution and the city’s burgeoning cyberdefense industry. But the growing cyber presence has shown itself beyond local educational institutions.
The investment group renovating Augusta’s historic Sibley Mill into a high-tech mixed-use development signed a deal with a Maryland-based institute to train future cybersecurity professionals there as early as next year.
Cape Augusta LLC, the company redeveloping the 136-year-old textile mill into a urban tech hub called Augusta Cyberworks, formed a joint venture with UMBC Training Centers LLC to educate up to 200 cyber professionals a year. Certificate program courses could begin in early 2017 – when Sibley’s phase one renovations are complete, Cape Augusta CEO James Ainslie said.
The phase one project includes building out office space in a 32,500-square-foot structure outside the four-story main mill facility for local information technology firm EDTS, whose current offices are on Broad Street.
Several defense contractors already have established offices in the area, including MacAulay-Brown Inc., Saber Systems Inc., IntelliGenesis LLC and Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., joining longtime contractors such as Raytheon and the city’s single-largest cyber contractor – Unisys Corp., whose downtown offices are gearing up to employ at least 750 workers, about 100 of whom support army email and IT functions worldwide.
The massive expansion of Fort Gordon’s military intelligence and cyberwarfare missions during the next few years will require military contractors and subcontractors to have a steady pipeline of information security specialists from which to draw in the local labor pool.
The Cyber Command complex will be constructed in two phases. The $85.1 million, 179,000-square-foot first phase is slated for completion in May 2018 for Army Cyber Command, which is known numerically as the Second Army and is also responsible for providing information assistance to “boots on the ground” personnel in active war zones.
The second phase, scheduled for completion in early 2019, will house the Army Cyber Protection Brigade, which maintains and defends the nation’s defense networks; and the post’s joint-force operations, which include Navy, Air Force and Marines’ cyber and intelligence personnel.
The combined Army Cyber Command Complex will have space for more than 1,200 soldiers and civilian contractors by late 2020, greatly expanding the small task force of cyber personnel currently on post.
The growth of cybersecurity and the important role Fort Gordon and Augusta plays in it was highlighted by several high-profile visits to the area.
At this year’s Cyber Georgia conference at Augusta University, CIA Director John Brennan said Augusta is doing it right when it comes to supporting cybersecurity.
“I think this community represents the marriage of the private and public sector,” he said. “We have Fort Gordon … and Augusta University, which is really determined to bring together the representatives from the different sectors of society and recognize that cybersecurity affects us all. It’s something that we really need to all work on.”