As the military continues to re-consolidate and make cuts in several places, Fort Meade is breaking ground on the front lines of the future.
At the Anne Arundel County installation, the Army is building a first of its kind unit - one that focuses on cyber systems intelligence and security. Rather than battling on standard battlefield, these cyber warriors are prowling the bowels of cyber space to protect the Defense Department's Internet domains from the six million attempted intrusions per day.
The commander of the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade, Col. Jon Sweet, says computers now run America's war effort. If servers go down at the hands of a hacker, for instance, missions could be jeopardized and American lives could be lost. That's where his proactive defense unit kicks in.
"(We're) trying to figure out who these individuals, organizations or nation-states are trying to get into DoD networks, what they're looking for and how they got in," Col. Sweet says. "It's a pretty incredible threat."
The new unit means new jobs for civilians and soldiers alike, including for Stafford resident John Hoehne and James Dasher, who moved to Maryland from Washington state to be a part of it.
"It's an awesome opportunity to be on the cutting edge of where our country is going," Dasher said.
Hoehne admits that a keyboard and a mouse we're not exactly what he thought his weapons of choice would be, but he's looking forward to the challenge.
"Any single time you plug up a hole, there are 10-plus holes you haven't thought about," he said.
The unit will be a mix of active duty military and civilians, and it's already busy growing its ranks. In fact, the Army is still looking for civilian candidates. A long stay is our area is already in the works as well; one sign of that is the adoption of a local school where troops will serve as mentors to students.