by Steven Stover, 780th Military Intelligence Brigade (Cyber)
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 Post Theater, July 13. The United States Army has partnered with the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) to train Soldiers and Marines to become Cyberspace Capability Developers.
Cyberspace Developer’s Course Critical to Retention and National Security
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 Post Theater, July 13.
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 nation’s demand, makes the retention of cyberspace Soldiers more challenging; however, in addition to a unique mission set, programs like 170D, Cyber Capabilities Developer Technician (https://recruiting.army.mil/170d/) warrant officer recruitment; the 780th MI Brigade’s in house certification of Network +; Security +; Certified Ethical Hacker and CISSP; and education partnership programs like TDQC are essential if the U.S. Army and Marine Corps want to retain the “best and the brightest.”
Army Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, commander, U.S. Cyber Command and director, National Security Agency chief, Central Security Service, told the House Armed Forces Committee in March 2020, “I continue to pursue creative ways to leverage our nation’s best and brightest to want to contribute to our missions.”
According to the 780th MI Brigade S3 (operations) program managers, graduates of the TDQC course are proficient to an intermediate level in creating programs using the C and Python computer programming languages, and provides an education path for individuals to become experienced at 90 percent of the identified critical developer requirements that an individual must be able to articulate and demonstrate through practical application in order to be certified as a Cyberspace Capability Developer.
“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,” said Sgt. 1st Class Corbin Greeff, a brigade senior Non-Commissioned Officer.
The 2021 TDQC graduating class includes: Spc. William Colley; Spc. Arthur Gould; Staff Sgt. Alex Jester; Sgt. Jerimiah Katen (distinguished honor graduate); Spc. Ewen MacGregor (honor graduate); Sgt. Michael Miano; Spc. Steven Mounie; Spc. Demetrius Nassy; Spc. Christopher Nguyen; Sgt. Jack Sanchez; Sgt. Steven Silbert; and Staff Sgt. Oliver Sung assigned to the 780th MI Brigade; and SSgt. Kotaro Fukasawa, Marine Corps Cyberspace Warfare.
Sgt. Katan, the distinguished honor graduate for TDQC Class 21-01, said the course gave him the tools that he needs to excel in his next position.
“I knew how to program o.k., before coming into the course,” said Katan. “But for someone who is starting fresh it would be really beneficial because they go through a bottom-up approach and I believe it has prepared all of us, really well, to do our jobs.”
Spc. Macgregor, the honor graduate for TDQC Class 21-01, echoed Katan’s sentiments when he added, “TDQC taught us the basic building blocks of programming, a lot of the nuances for language base, like how to exactly do it or how to go about problem solving.”
Katan and MacGregor, on behalf of TDQC class 21-01, wanted to express their sincere gratitude for all the UMBC faculty, with heartfelt appreciation to Liam Echlin and Dave Flanagan.
“They are probably two of the best instructors I’ve ever had,” said Katan.
Maj. Micah Bushouse, the S3 (operations) officer for the 780th MI Brigade and guest speaker for the ceremony had these words of advice for the TDQC graduates.
“I am pleased to be among the first to congratulate you after nearly a year of academic work,” said Bushouse. “More importantly though, I hope to someday meet the future you: a qualified cyberspace capability developer, who met the training certification requirements with enthusiasm honed by dedication; an experienced technical leader who enters the force; a lifelong learner who has walked the humble path; and an always curious researcher who is intolerant of ignorance and continually demands a deeper understanding. This future you IS what the Army (and Marine Corps) really needs, and you are the only person who can take steps today to get you there.”
Congratulations to each of the 2021 TDQC graduates, and welcome to the world of capability development.
Since 2017, this is the eighth graduating class and with less than 100 graduates the selection process for applicants is very stringent. Soldiers interested in applying for TDQC should talk to their command team or contact the 780th MI Brigade S3 for more information.
How important is cybersecurity in the United States?
CyberSeek – an organization which provides information on the cybersecurity job market – shows a talent gap on their Heatmap (https://www.cyberseek.org/heatmap.html) of more than 460,000 job openings out of 1.42 million cybersecurity positions across the country, and with cyberattacks on the rise, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the demand for cybersecurity professionals is outpacing all other occupations and expects a 31 percent growth in the field from 2019 to 2029.