FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. – Cyber Soldiers and a Marine graduated from the 11-month Tool Developer Qualification Course (TDQC) in a ceremony hosted by the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade (Cyber) at the MG Baron DeKalb Army Reserve Center, July 14.
The United States Army has partnered with the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) to train Soldiers and Marines to become Cyberspace Capability Developers.
The country’s insatiable demand for cybersecurity specialists, especially developers, and a critical national security requirement makes the retention of cyber Soldiers and Marines more challenging; however, if the Army and Marine Corps want to retain the “best and the brightest” educational partnership programs like TDQC; a unique U.S. Cyber Command, combatant command, and Army Cyber/Marine Force Cyber mission set; the 170D, Cyber Capabilities Developer Technician (https://recruiting.army.mil/170d/) warrant officer recruitment; the brigade’s in house certification of Network +; Security +; Certified Ethical Hacker and CISSP; and advanced civil schooling, are all essential enticement incentives.
According to the 780th MI Brigade S3 (operations) program managers, the goal behind the development of the TDQC was to design a progressive education curriculum where students were evaluated based upon how well they could complete individual programming assignments. This thought process ensures that a graduate of the program has enough training and experience to allow them to integrate into a work center and be a productive member of a team with minimal oversight and mentorship being required. Its purpose is to educate individuals who have little to no computer programming experience that have been identified through an assessment as having an aptitude and desire to become a computer programmer.
Graduates of the TDQC are proficient to an intermediate level in creating programs using the C and Python computer programming languages. The TDQC provides an education path for individuals to become experienced at approximately 90 percent of the identified critical developer requirements that an individual must be able to articulate and demonstrate through practical application to be certified as a Cyberspace Capability Developer.
A Cyberspace Capability Developer is a versatile, highly trained individual responsible for the analysis of system vulnerabilities, product research, cyberspace solution development, documentation, and implementation of software and hardware solutions that operate in and through cyberspace and serve as a force multiplier for maneuver forces.
Lt. Col. Chuck Suslowicz, director, Cyber Solutions Development, 780th MI Brigade (Cyber), was the keynote speaker and told the graduating class that following their rigorous TDQC curriculum their learning experience was “just the beginning.”
“You will learn a thousand new things every day for the rest of your career as a developer,” said Suslowicz. “But it is not really bad news in and of itself. You are going to come in each day, be faced with really difficult challenges which will force you to grow and learn more, and progress in your proficiency as a developer for the Army or the Marine Corps.”
“It’s a never-ending process. It’s why I love it. It’s why I love everything we do, and I encourage you to embrace it,” added Suslowicz.
The 2023 TDQC graduating class includes: Chief Warrant Officer Two Richard Soto; Staff Sgt. Joana Palomares; Staff Sgt. Wesley Smith; Sgt. Elizabeth Creek; Sgt. Elliott Lefler; Sgt. Raymone Miller; Spc. Josh Carroll; Spc. Jeremy Carter; Marine Cpl. James Driver (distinguished honor graduate); Spc. Dakota Kellogg; Spc. Rob Myers (honor graduate); Spc. Thomas Repa; Spc. Isaac Sanchez; and Spc. James Viner.
Congratulations to each of the 2023 TDQC graduates, and welcome to the world of capability development.
TDQC Cohort 12 is the 12th graduating class and with less than 200 graduates since 2017 the selection process for applicants is very stringent.
“The graduates didn’t just work hard these last 11 months,” said Suslowicz. “They had to put in some serious work before that. The process to get into TDQC involves a vigorous assessment program and ultimately involves making a cut which is adjudicated by the Col. Ben Sangster (the 780th MI Brigade commander) – these are the folks we believe have the highest potential to be developers in the Army.”
Soldiers interested in applying for TDQC should talk to their command team and contact the 780th MI Brigade S3 for more information.