STEM Careers in the Guard: A Spotlight on Technology

This fall, On Your Guard is taking a look at STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math careers offered by the Army National Guard. These are jobs that require problem solving skills and a strong desire to figure out how things work. They are also typically high paying jobs that are in demand in the civilian workforce.

So why is that important? Because Guard service is typically a part-time commitment, many of our Soldiers make the most of their skills training and the Guard’s education benefits to build successful full-time civilian careers.

This week, we’ll take a look at Technology careers.

Army National Guard Soldiers who work in technology support global communications and critical intelligence efforts. They design, build, and manage tactical communication systems, and gather and analyze highly sensitive data.

So what does this mean in everyday terms? Josh Denton, a Sergeant in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard says his military occupational specialty (MOS) of 25Q Multi-Channel Transmission Systems Operator-Maintainer consists of “basically data transmission. It’s taking any kind of data, any kind of network traffic to a long distance somewhere else, either by line of sight or satellite communications.”

SGT Denton likens his job and other telecommunications jobs within the 25 series of MOSs this way: “Basically we’re Verizon Wireless, but we’re for the military.”

Besides putting his technical skills to work while serving in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom II, this MOS also serves a purpose for stateside missions. SGT Denton has been activated to provide backup communications for two high-security, high-profile events in Pennsylvania, once during Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia in 2015, and before that, during the G-20 summit, an international forum for heads of state that was hosted in Pittsburgh in 2009.

SGT Josh Denton, Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

SGT Josh Denton, Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

SGT Denton, who joined the Guard 15 years ago at age 18, came into this line of work at the suggestion of his recruiter, and has stuck with it ever since because “I absolutely love the job that I do. I‘ve been with a great team for many years.”

The 25Q MOS requires 20 weeks of Advanced Individual Training, part of it in the classroom and part of it in the field, but aptitude is also important.

SGT Denton says Soldiers who go into technical careers need a “strong troubleshooting mindset.”

“You have to be able to look at a problem holistically, analyze the symptoms and try to find a root cause of whatever the issue may be. With any kind of technology, there’s always bugs and problems, so you have to be tenacious at problem solving.”

Mastering skills in a technical field has also helped SGT Denton develop a successful civilian career path. He is currently a technical support manager, and before that, he was operations manager for a large, global IT company where he oversaw a group of technicians.

It wasn’t just the technical skills he learned in the Guard that gave him a competitive edge in the marketplace. It was also the leadership qualities that the Guard instills in its Soldiers.

“I got my first civilian leadership job because of the experiences I got from the Guard,” SGT Denton says. “That was a big part of my interview – talking about some of the experiences I had in the military and how I manage people.”

So if you have the aptitude for, and an interest in, a technical career, be sure to visit our job board to check out these MOSs:

25B Information Technology Specialist

25C Radio Operator-Maintainer

25L Cable Systems Installer-Maintainer

25N Nodal Network Systems Operator-Maintainer

25P Microwave Systems Operator-Maintainer

25S Satellite Communications Systems Operator-Maintainer

25U Signal Support Systems Specialist

Guard careers in closely related fields, like Science, Engineering and Math might also be of interest to you. One way to narrow down your options is to contact your local recruiter.

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Always Ready, Always There Reflects Guard’s Ability to Change with Times

An organization that is actually older than the country it serves could not have survived for nearly 380 years without being able to change with the times.

The Army National Guard, which will celebrate this milestone birthday on Dec. 13, continues to live up to its motto of “Always Ready, Always There” by adding new areas of focus and new career opportunities that reflect national trends. We at On Your Guard thought we’d take a look back at new initiatives and changes that got under way over the course of the past year.

Because cybersecurity is a top concern for anyone who uses technology, the Guard began focusing on standing up 10 Cyber Protection Teams in an effort to help the Nation better defend against cyber attacks. When we spoke with LTC Matt Chytka last fall, he anticipated Guard careers in technology and intelligence would continue to grow, just as they have in the private sector. 

National Guard Soldiers.LTC Chytka said the Guard was uniquely qualified to improve the country’s “cyber posture,” due to the fact that service is part-time, which allows a Citizen-Soldier® to attend school or work full- time in a private sector career.

“We have a very strong ability versus our active duty brethren to attract, and, particularly, to retain, highly skilled cyber military professionals that the Nation requires in order to maintain a keen cyber edge and superiority in the cyberspace realm,” he said.

While the Guard expands its career opportunities in STEM, it is also opening up more jobs to women.

The Guard, along with every other branch of the U.S. military, started seeing new faces in different roles last year as the Department of Defense (DoD) loosened restrictions regarding women serving in combat roles. Ultimately, the DoD announced in late 2015 that all military combat jobs, without exception, would be open to women who met the qualifications, like 2LT Tracci Dorgan-Bandy, who became the first female artillery officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard.

For her, a combat-oriented job was just one more area where she could prove herself and excel. Her previous Guard military occupational specialties (MOSs) included 25P Microwave Systems Operator/Maintainer and photojournalist.

“The Guard has opened so many doors for me, so many opportunities. I’ve never had anybody shut a door in my face in the Guard,” she said.

With more than 150 career fields to choose from, many of the Citizen-Soldiers we’ve interviewed say they appreciate the chance to move into career fields that might be completely different than their previous MOS, like SFC William Bart, who went into marketing and recruiting for the Alaska Guard after serving for years as 31B Military Police, which is one of the most searched for careers on our job board.

“You set your own destiny as far as your career goes,” SFC Bart said.

Of course, the best place to start thinking about your career destiny is to take a look at our job board, where you can search by keyword or location. You can also search by category, broadly defined as Administrative, Armor and Field Artillery, Aviation, Engineer, Infantry, Logistics Support, Mechanic and Maintenance, Medical, Military Police, Signal and Military Intelligence, and Transportation.

And for one-on-one advice, or answers to any questions you might have, contact a recruiter.

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Guard Spotlight: North Carolina

Preparing Cyber Warriors for State and National Duty

A Soldier updates computers at the NCNG's Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh. NCNG is Always Ready against any threat, including cyber attacks. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan)

A Soldier updates computers at the NCNG's Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh. NCNG is Always Ready against any threat, including cyber attacks. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan)

What do major online and storefront retail giants, Federal and State Government agencies, and national banks/financial institutions have in common?

They all have suffered malicious cyber attacks over the past several years. Cyber intrusions and attacks expose sensitive personal and business information and disrupt essential operations, negatively affecting business and the economy.

Unlike many Government programs, cyber defense is growing in its budget and personnel. The North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) is poised to support the National Guard Bureau and its intent to stand up multiple Cyber Protection Teams (CPT) for U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber Mission Forces.

Over the past five years, NCNG has built an impressive group of information technology (IT) professionals who make up its Joint Cyber Defense Team. The majority of the team also work as IT specialists in a wide range of state, national, and international industries and corporations.

“A distinct characteristic of North Carolina Guard’s cyber team is its deep bench of experienced industry professionals,” said Captain Robert Felicio, a 15-year cyber defense expert and NCNG cyber team member.

“North Carolina’s robust financial sector in Charlotte, our university system’s research and development programs, and Raleigh-Durham’s Research Triangle Park with its cutting-edge biomedical, engineering, software, data systems, and networking firms, breeds a quality of IT professional rarely seen in other locations in the U.S.,” Felicio said. “We regularly recruit from, train, and collaborate with this remarkable local talent pool.”

The results of this local talent pool are evident in the team’s exceptional performance in recent cyber training events.

NCNG’s Joint Cyber Defense Team, along with 300 Soldiers, Airmen and civilians from 35 States and Territories, participated in Cyber Shield this spring. The exercise was designed to challenge teams with real-world scenarios where their networks were maliciously attacked again and again.

In July, the team participated in U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber Guard exercise at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Cyber Guard was the largest exercise of its kind, comprised of international partners, Active Duty, National Guard, Reserves, National Security Agency, and U.S. Cyber Command teams who performed their cyber missions in support of the Department of Homeland Security and FBI.

The scenarios revolved around response to foreign-based attacks on Government and privately owned critical infrastructure networks while promoting collaboration and information sharing across all levels of Government. In both exercises, evaluators ranked the North Carolina Guard in the top tier of participating teams.

The same way governors may call their Guard force to respond to natural disasters, National Guard cyber teams will stand ready to answer the call for a cyber emergency. Teams will support Federal, State, and critical infrastructure networks by providing proactive network security assessments, and if necessary, by actively protecting those networks when requested during a time of emergency.

“The Joint Cyber Defense Team assembled in the NCNG is a highly trained, dedicated and motivated group of quiet professionals,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk, adjutant general of North Carolina. “They protect and defend our information networks and communications systems across the State, every hour of every day, and stand ready to assist other State and Federal agencies, and others that are part of our critical infrastructure.”

Recently, NCNG’s cyber team supported the National Democratic Convention in Charlotte and the January 2013 Presidential Inauguration. The team also has travelled to Moldova and Romania on several occasions providing network security information sharing with former eastern-bloc countries as part of European Command’s efforts to increase cybersecurity awareness with these potential partners.

If you have what it takes to be a cyber warrior, visit our jobs board today and contact a recruiter.

Original article by Lt. Col. Matthew Devivo, North Carolina National Guard, appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil.

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