FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- When Maj. Brooks Jarnagin, who is a Military Intelligence (MI) officer, graduated from the two-year Army Intelligence Development Program -- Cyber (AIDP-Cyber) course in a ceremony at the National Cryptologic Museum here on June 1 he became a trend setter.
Previously, the graduates of the AIDP-Cyber program filled cyberspace team leader and other key and developmental (KD) positions within the fledgling Cyber branch; however, starting with Jarnagin, the focus has changed to providing cyber training and experience to MI officers who will be significantly ahead of their peers and become much more valuable to their tactical and strategic commands.
"When the (AIDP-Cyber) program was implemented we didn't have a Cyber branch. It was originally designed to train MI or Signal officers to become Cyber officers," said Lt. Col. Justin Considine, commander of the 781st Military Intelligence Battalion (Cyber) and the executive agent for AIDP-Cyber. "Now that we have a Cyber branch, we have a pipeline, a schoolhouse, and a Center of Excellence. We are now redesigning the program to produce cyber-savvy, operationally minded Military Intelligence officers to go back into the force and be better prepared to advise their commanders in FORSCOM (U.S. Army Forces Command) on how to integrate cyberspace effects into tactical operations."
Considine said the two-year program is highly competitive and selects only the best and brightest MI officers. He went onto say that the AIDP-C graduates will stand head and shoulders above their peers when it comes to advising their commanders on cyberspace operations and planning cyberspace effects.
"I know when Brooks moves forward to be a brigade S2 (intelligence officer) he is going to feel the pressure to stay one to two steps ahead of his brigade commander. That is going to be a big challenge, because the commanders are being fed a lot of information about cyber, and sometimes they're getting it more than their intelligence officer," said Considine. "I have no doubt that Brooks is going to go into the force and he is going to have a significant advantage over the other brigade S2s, because he has been through this program. (He is) going to have the knowledge, the experience and the contacts."
According to Lt. Col. Jesse Sandefer, the deputy commanding officer for the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade (Cyber), and the keynote speaker for the graduation ceremony, the MI branch allows only one to two MI officers a year to enter the AIDP-Cyber program.
"AIDP-C is intended to prepare officers to serve in positions requiring cyber leadership and planning expertise for the Army," said Sandefer. "It is a highly competitive program. So the simple fact that (Jarnagin) was selected for this program means we've already got a pretty damn good MI officer."
Once selected for the AIDP-Cyber, the MI officer is moved to Fort Meade, Maryland for a two-year program consisting of instruction from the National Cryptologic School, Department of Defense cyber-related courses, and through commercial information technology certification courses, followed by operational tours at the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.
Considine said two years has proven to be adequate time to conduct fundamental training in information technology, then to conduct three rotations, one focusing on offensive cyberspace operations (OCO), one on defensive cyberspace operations (DCO), and then one intended to be a capstone planning rotation, where the interns integrate their knowledge of cyberspace technologies and OCO and DCO into real world operations supporting the Cyber National Mission Force.
"It's a fire hose from the get-go," said Jarnagin. "You go through a lot of certification courses for the first three to four months -- A+, Net+, CSA+, CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) -- and then you start to transition out to different work centers, and once you complete your tour at those work centers you'll be trained in defensive cyber operations, offensive cyber operations and as a cyber planner."
Jarnagin calls himself a "Fort Bragg baby." He has been an MI officer since the beginning, serving six years with 4th Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, including two operational tours, before attending the Captain's Career Course, then going back to the 82nd, where he deployed again. He also served two years at the Pentagon on the Headquarters, Department of the Army G-2 (Intelligence) staff as an executive officer.
It is a significant investment to have a high-caliber officer in training for that length of time, but Sandefer and Considine agreed the return on that investment is worth the time, for both the Cyber branch and the Army.
During the graduation ceremony Sandefer told Jarnagin to "Get assigned to some KD positions and influence the force, because we need smart Intel officers out there that can speak both SIGINT (signals intelligence) and cyber [and] CI (counterintelligence) and cyber, and if you do go on to be a brigade G-2 in the 82nd, the knowledge and experience you have gained here is going to do wonders both for that unit and for us, as we educate the Army."
Jarnagin had this advice for prospective MI officers who graduate from the program.
"I truly believe, and I think we all know this to be true, that cyber is just going to continue to grow in importance, and it's going to play a critical role in future conflicts," said Jarnagin. "So we in the MI Corps have to shoulder that task, shoulder that mission, and assume responsibility for that threat…so capture your lessons learned [and] get them back out to the MI community"