NORTH VERNON, Ind. – The 915th Cyber Warfare Battalion, headquartered at Fort Gordon, Georgia, conducted a Field Training Exercise at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in early October and Soldiers from the Army’s first Expeditionary CEMA (cyberspace electromagnetic activities) Team, ECT-01, were the target audience.
Staff Sgt. Isaac Ware, from Stockton, Calif., is the noncommissioned officer-in charge of an Expeditionary CEMA Crew, a team under the Cyber Warfare Element of ECT-01. His previous military occupational specialty (MOS) was a 25B, information technology specialist, and he recently made the transition to 17C, a cyberspace operations specialist.
“There are work roles in the Army that I don’t think you’ll have the opportunity in the civilian workforce,” said Ware. “If you’re looking to do offensive cyber and get paid for it, and do it legally, this is probably the place to be. I know a lot of people who are interested in coding, and how EW (electronic warfare) and cyber works, and defense, and if you’re interested in that… I know people who wanted to do the tactical and were super smart and that’s why they joined and came into this particular unit.”
For Ware, it’s not just the MOS, but the opportunity to lead Soldiers in a tactical environment.
“My passion right now is leading troops. I have my two peers, both staff sergeants, and what we get to do is lead troops,” said Ware. “This training event is a fusion of our technical skills being paired with our tactical skills. Being an NCO in this organization at this time, we’re understanding how we can lead our troops to accomplish our cyber mission. Troop leading procedures, PCCs and PCIs, actions on the objective – being able to have these conversations and these drills, understanding which systems we need to bring, being able to go through these motions and these drills is the reason why we’re here at Muscatatuck.”
“Sergeant major actually got on me today (Oct. 7) because I was leading a huge portion of our ops (operations) team and she gave me a birds-eye view and she changed my perspective,” added Ware. “You need to have eyes on the operation’s process so you can interject new processes, develop a new checklist to do things better…understand you have to backwards plan, you have to teach yourself and help your peers. I have three, four pages of notes from today that I took because the sergeant major got on me today.”
Army specialists Mike Diep, who hails from Los Angeles, and Matthew Scruggs, from Fort Benning, Georgia, are 17C, cyberspace operations specialists, assigned to ECT-01. Both Soldiers attended Joint Cyber Analysis Course (JCAC) in Pensacola, Florida, and Phase II for 17Cs at Fort Gordon, Ga., and arrived to the 915th CWB in April.
“I came into the Army for a different change of pace. I’ve always wanted to serve (in the U.S. Army) since I was a kid,” said Diep, who is a Cal Poly Pomona Business major. “Switching my career field after college is something that I wanted to do, and cybersecurity was something I definitely did my research in. I enlisted within two weeks. The training was fun. It was demanding at first, but it’s not something anyone can’t learn.”
“I think the U.S. Army is great because cyber is so new to the point where everybody who comes from off the street, they enlist, they get this technical training through JCAC, from phase II, they are going to be in a really good spot,” added Diep. “Whether you stay in the Army or you get out, to be part of the 915th and doing this, it’s interesting because we are also learning broad cyber stuff. We are learning a lot of electromagnetic stuff on top of cyber, as well as RF, it feels like a broadening assignment.”
“I joined the Army because I have a big Family upbringing from the Army. My granddad was in the Army, my dad was in the Army, a lot of my granddad’s brothers were in the Army, a lot of presence there,” said Scruggs. “I was going to Columbus State University in Georgia for cybersecurity, and made the rotation into the Army as a cybersecurity specialist because I felt that was a good segue to further enhance my career both inside and outside the Army.”
Diep and Scruggs believe the MUTC FTX has been both physically and mentally challenging, but credit their NCOs for keeping them motivated.
“I am definitely grateful for the NCOs that are part of our team, because they’re the ones who are looking out for us. That’s something that I appreciate,” said Diep. “As operators, we sometimes don’t see the big picture. We see everything we can at our level and it may be chaotic at times, but the NCOs are keeping us grounded. There is this positive reinforcement from them, and I think in life, in business, or the Army, you need that motivation. (The FTX) has been an emotional roller coaster, but at the same time we are trying to set that aside to accomplish our mission. Post-mission, the (NCOs) bring us back up, it’s good to have that support.”