Fort Gordon welcomed Congressman Rick Allen on Wednesday for an up-close look at the Army’s cyber operations as cyber command continues to move into its new Augusta headquarters.
“Every time I am out here I just say, ‘Wow!’ I don’t mind telling you, it’s like drinking from a fire hose. We have a lot going on out here,” said the Republican from Augusta.
He called cyber battlefields the new frontier in warfare and said the mission at Fort Gordon and in Augusta is very important. Allen spent about three hours with cyber warfare experts learning detailed information about their missions. He said briefings about the current operations, future operations, and connections to the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center were intensive and largely classified.
“We can be the Silicon Valley of the East Coast. We have that opportunity and we have that on an education level. We can set the stage for this part of the country as far as education,” Allen said.
The training center is planned to be a “cyber range” built by Georgia Technology Authority and operated by Augusta University at its Riverfront Campus downtown. The facility will be a training and education partnership between academia, military and private entities. Gov. Nathan Deal recently signed an amended budget that directed $50 million to the project which is expected to be complete in mid-2018.
“The challenges are there, but the opportunities are enormous,” he said.
Allen said there are school system and infrastructure upgrades needed to accommodate and attract the approximately 4,000 people expected to move into the Augusta area because of the cyber command and cyber training center missions.
He said to address those education issues, legislation will need to boost funding to ramp up the process. Allen also called the cyber realm the battleground of the 21st century military.
“It’s fascinating, it’s extraordinary and it is challenging because technology changes daily,” he said.
Allen thanked the community and Augusta University for their support and said the work being done by the Fort Gordon soldiers is “tremendous.”
He said he looks forward to returning to Washington with his new understanding to work with fellow members of Congress. He said coordination with local and the state governments is vital to ensure the challenges are adequately met.
“We are the best in the world at conventional warfare and we are going to be the best in the world in cyber,” he said. “The number one concern with our people is always national security. I am amazed at the dedication, particularly of our soldiers and our professionals to really deal with the issues that sometimes seem over-challenging. We have these folks to thank for that.”