Military veterans trade artillery for algorithms in the fight against cyber warfare | KLRT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Military veterans are back in training in Arkansas, and although they’ve left the front lines of active duty, they’re now gearing up for a battle of cyber warfare.

Scott Anderson is a retired Air National Guard commander and now executive director of the Forge Institute in Little Rock.

When asked what the threat of cyberattacks is to the nation’s security, as well as to state and local governments and businesses, Anderson said it was difficult to answer.

“I would say what do we compare it to, it’s different from a nuclear threat, but I would say it could be just as important,” he explained.

Former Air National Guard Commander Scott Anderson now has a new mission: to lead the Forge Institute’s efforts to train the next generation of cyber warriors.

The Forge Institute handles all things cyber for businesses, individuals, and in this case, a training academy for veterans.

“I heard for the first time in our nation’s history that there are serious adversaries looking at the private sector,” Anderson explained.

Fighting in this cyberwar is a tour of duty that some veterans are eager to sign up for. They learn to become cybersecurity experts, spotting and identifying online threats and attacks that harm communities and businesses in the United States.

Marine Corps veteran Tony Loukota teaches classes at the institute. He said his biggest fear is people and it boils down to people being untrustworthy and using computers as weapons, crossing enemy lines.

Another veteran, Dugan Stem, served in the military and was previously an analyst with the National Security Administration. He is familiar with cyber adversaries, but is now prepared to fight in the private sector, and he said the new training he is undergoing reflects the knowledge he learned in the military.

“The analytical skills I needed there, but now I have the hands-on online training you would need,” Stem said of his new training.

Army veteran Dugan Stem says the skills he learns at the Forge Institute go hand-in-hand with those he learned in the military.

The Forge Institute says this training will help these veterans get civilian jobs, and according to Anderson, there are plenty.

“Last time I heard there were approximately 3.2 million vacancies in cybersecurity across the country,” he said, noting that most of them are not. beginners and that their students will qualify for and likely get experienced positions. “I would say there’s a 99.9% chance they’ll get a job.”

So look for more military veterans heading into the internet battlefield, breaking codes, building firewalls and saying “access denied” to cyber enemies.

Sharon D. Cole