Communities in western South Carolina are benefiting from the relatively-new U.S. Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon in Georgia.
“Aiken and Edgefield Counties have always had some military because of Fort Gordon but . . . Fort Gordon has changed its mission, being the hub for the cyber security, intelligence-gathering, development of new skills and techniques and technologies related to the very important world of cyber,’ retired Brig. Gen. Keith Martin said.
Martin, as Program Manager for the Military Child Education Coalition, has noticed the South Carolina interest from Fort Gordon families. He said more military families associated with Fort Gordon are settling in Aiken and Edgefield Counties, and the coalition is making sure schools are prepared to address the challenges military children face.
“The non-commissioned officers and enlisted who work at Cyber Command, these are really, really smart people to have that assignment, which means that they have high expectations for the educational quality that their children are going to receive,” he said.
The post outside Augusta, Ga., had long been the home for the U.S. Army Signal Corps when the Pentagon moved the Cyber Center of Excellence there in 2014. Members of the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and multinational forces work together at Fort Gordon on joint forces activities, training and operations.
When military parents are surveyed related to their assignment satisfaction, Martin said quality of education is among the top criteria. It’s also a concern for veterans who are looking for a place to locate after their days of duty. Other issues the region faces are jobs for spouses and housing. Fort Gordon is about 35 miles from Aiken, South Carolina.
“It really puts the entire region in the spotlight of the leading edge of the U-S military effort to protect us and our interests in a world where cyber issues are critically important,” he said.
The University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business concluded in 2015 that South Carolina’s military presence generates $21 billion each year and is responsible for 1 out of 12 jobs in the state.
“South Carolina currently has a high stakes involved here and South Carolina is working very hard to position itself to protect against any losses at the major military bases and to position itself for potential gains,” Martin said.