CECOM Spotlight: Command Antiterrorism Officer Carly Garrett protects the workforce

By Maya GreenMay 29, 2024

Garrett poses with veteran outside.
U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Antiterrorism Officer Carly Garrett poses with a veteran who was formerly a part of the French Legion at a memorial hike event. Garrett works closely with an organization called Irreverent Warriors, whose mission is to take action against veteran suicides. A common way the organization does this is through hikes where Garrett serves as a lead hike support coordinator. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command’s very own Command Antiterrorism Officer Carly Garrett is a self-starter. A native to the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia area, Garrett hails from a large family of service members all dedicated to the cause of protecting the ideals and citizens of this great nation. Their service inspired her to join in supporting the mission, paying tribute to their sacrifice.

“The DOD is all I know,” she said. “I wanted to do my part since so many of my family members have sacrificed so much more, so this was my way to give back a little.”

Garrett took a step off the traditional path and forged her own way. She became a professional in her line of work through college courses and security professional certifications, versus a degree.

“Specifically with protection positions, when we do these community outreach events, the high school kids, the interns don’t know you can be an antiterrorism officer or a physical security officer [without a traditional education],” she said. “It’s cool to get that message out.”

Garrett began her DOD career with a defense contractor as a receptionist. In 2012, she took the opportunity to come to APG for a program manager role that the contract offered. Soon after she became an operations officer as an embedded contractor.

“Being able to take on those additional responsibilities was worth me coming out to APG,” she said. “And once I got here, I learned so much more and saw where I could help out.”

While Garrett was an operations officer, her mentor saw her interest in security and encouraged her to join his team. This allowed her to gain a better understanding and respect for security. She accepted an Army Civilian role as a security specialist, joining Team CECOM in 2017.

A turning point in Garrett’s career was when she volunteered for the Expeditionary Civilian Workforce and accepted a physical security officer position in Poland. The day she left to fulfill her ECW duties happened to also be the day Russia invaded Ukraine.

Garrett arrived in Poland where those with antiterrorism experience were moved to assist with the efforts in Ukraine. This opened a unique opportunity for Garrett to learn antiterrorism along with fulfilling her physical security duties in building a protection program alongside V Corps.

Garrett was able to participate in meetings with the Polish government and U.S. Army, developing protection plans to handle various issues like base defense, safeguarding of sensitive items and information, and developing protection working groups.

“It was the Army way of learning by doing and I really appreciated it,” she stated.

Antiterrorism is one of the 13 pillars of the overall Army Protection Program. Other pillars include cybersecurity, emergency management, operations security, and insider threat, Garrett said. All these different areas allowed her to work with a lot of disciplines and teams in Poland, leading her to fall in love with antiterrorism.

When Garrett came back home, the G3/5 position opened, and she applied. When her predecessor retired, she jumped at the opportunity to become the command antiterrorism officer.

In this position, Garrett shows the workforce the impact of antiterrorism through risk assessments, coordination with other offices for input towards risk mitigation or antiterrorism measures, foreign travel notifications, and more. In layman’s terms, Garrett identifies where CECOM is vulnerable to terrorists, and ensures we develop plans to mitigate against threats.

The hardest part of her job is getting people to see how antiterrorism programs benefit them, she said.

“I want folks to see how I am a force enabler and not a roadblock, it’s an everyday challenge,” she continued. “Antiterrorism is meant to be integrated into every program of the Army.”

Garrett’s favorite part of her job is when she receives leadership buy-in and support on antiterrorism programs.

“When I can influence leaders to make risk-based decisions, that keep the workforce safe, and ultimately keep CECOM assets, facilities, and personnel safe, that’s a win for me,” she said. “It’s the little things, it’s having a leader request my attendance in a meeting—even if it’s a meeting I probably have nothing to say, but just because that leader wants to hear what my view might be—that’s rewarding to me, gaining that trust and confidence from the leadership that [antiterrorism] is an important program.”

Garrett’s dream is to inspire others with her passion for protection and antiterrorism. While her work is done in the background, she remains a force enabler and protector. Her advice to the next generation entering the workforce and fellow professionals is to use every moment as a learning experience and grow.

“You don’t always have to have the right answers,” Garrett said. “But a willingness to learn and to make mistakes is a leadership philosophy of mine.”