FORT GORDON, Ga. (Jan. 24, 2017) — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle visited Fort Gordon and U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence Jan. 24. They were joined by Dr. Brooks Keel, president of Augusta University, a key player in a major upcoming project.
The trip came less than two weeks after Deal’s State of the State address, which he announced a $50 million budget proposal to build a Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center in Augusta, Georgia. The 150,000 square foot facility will occupy the former Golf and Gardens property at AU’s riverfront campus.
Addressing a crowd of local media and military officials, Deal praised Fort Gordon’s leadership, adding that he feels well-educated on what goes on at the Cyber CoE.
“These military commanders are doing a very valuable service for our country, and we should all be proud that they are doing it right here in the state of Georgia, here at Fort Gordon,” Deal said.
Fort Gordon has been home to several cyber entities working together for very different missions at times, as will the new cyber innovation and training center, he said. Much like the Cyber CoE, he expects the new facility will have a huge economic impact on the region in terms of training and attracting businesses to Georgia.
“Virtually everything that goes on in our lives today is in some way involved with the need for cyber security,” Deal said. “Sometimes some of us wish that were not the case, but it is the world we live in, and it impacts everyone from the smallest community to the largest city that we have.”
Deal then touched on the new facility’s significance and scope of agencies involved.
“It’s designed to promote and to train individuals in this very important skillset,” Deal said. “In conjunction with the Department of Defense and the NSA, our facility of the state of Georgia will put our resources in a collaborative effort with them, and in doing so, I believe will put the state of Georgia in a very enviable position — perhaps at the very pinnacle — of this training that relates to an important sector that is cyber security.”
Acknowledging there will be obstacles associated with the new facility, Deal said his visit to Fort Gordon opened his eyes to one challenge. One of the more “interesting” things he learned was that although Fort Gordon has trainers with high credentials to train, those trainers don’t necessarily have knowledge of the “entire picture.” Instead, the installation uses students from time to time who have expertise in certain areas; a unique concept to ensuring qualified instructors, Deal said.
“We’re going to face those challenges, too,” he said. “Any field like this that is on the cutting edge and in high demand, finding enough qualified instructors is always a challenge.”
That is where working collaboratively with Fort Gordon and other entities will have a major impact in the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center excelling.
“This is an exciting opportunity … one of the big initiatives for the governor really to make sure that we have this range where we’re creating a workforce that is second to none and prepared to attract not only the industry that we want here in Georgia, but also to support Fort Gordon, the university system, Augusta University, and what a wonderful job in which they are doing,” Cagle said.
The project is too early in the development states to know how many jobs it will create, but Deal said he believes the number will be substantial.
The Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center is expected to be completed in June 2018.