Lt. Col. Thomas Lesnieski, the director of public affairs for the Georgia National Guard, said the state’s defense mission has been building a cyber defense team to assist federal and state agencies with cyber attacks. The Army’s overseas troop reduction gives the Georgia guard an optimal time to position itself for growth, he said.
“The Georgia National Guard is trying to posture ourselves to gain force structure, gain missions. Cyber is one of those,” Lesnieski said during a meeting with The Augusta Chronicle. “We have been partnering with Georgia industry, Georgia agencies as well as federal agencies in different exercises.”
Ten teams of 39 cyber defensemen will correspond with FEMA’s 10 regions, said Ashlie Shrewsbury, the media relations coordinator for the Georgia National Guard. Training to become a cyber warrior takes between 12 and 24 months.
More than 11,000 guardsmen serve in the Georgia Army National Guard, and about 2,800 in the Air National Guard. There are 318 guardsmen in Richmond County.
As the Army and Guard add cyber specialties to their ranks, National Guard members can earn a valuable skill set that can be used in their full-time civilian careers, Shrewsbury said.
“We are vying as the Georgia guard to have that team located here, which would open up not only jobs but training and readiness,” she said.
Service members eligible for the cyber positions must be in the military and hold another job, such as a medic or linguist, that qualifies them for the job, Shrewsbury said.