Satellite dishes mark the main gate of Fort Gordon, eggshell white and lasering up at the moon. It’s a modest shrine, as these things go. Many military bases put machines of might on the front porch—tanks or helos or jumbo artillery guns—but the dishes fit Fort Gordon just fine. They’re subtle. They’re quiet.
Inside the gates it’s more of the same. Fort Gordon sits in a soft Georgian basin, the traditional home of the US Army Signal Corps. Signal has been around since the Civil War and has long been responsible for military communications—flags and torches back in the day, radios and cables and mesh networks in the more recent past. Recently, this staple of warfare started sharing its digs with a new branch: cyber. Find the right Signal old-timer, maybe one feeling cranky or deep in their cups in a bar along the dark Augusta riverfront, and they’ll talk candidly about this new branch. They say it with envy, and sibling affection. Still, though. They say it.
Maybe there’s some truth to that; maybe it’s just bureaucrat territorialism. Either way, what’s happening at the US Army’s new cyber branch headquarters marks a change for Fort Gordon. For the surrounding community too, with civic leaders hoping to turn Augusta and its neighboring cities into a national cybersecurity hub. Hell, what’s happening with cyber might be changing warfare itself.
And the soldiers charged with carrying it out don’t even carry rifles on missions. Their minds are their weapons, they say.
Silly? It can sound that way. Accurate? It is.
At any given moment at Fort Gordon, instructors in khakis are teaching soldiers at every stage of their career—shiny new privates, steely-eyed noncoms, cherry lieutenants, surly captains. Different courses tailored for different ranks,