The South Carolina National Guard plans to build a new facility in Aiken to house statewide cybersecurity initiatives.
In his 2020-21 executive budget, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster included $15 million for cybersecurity efforts, including construction of the state-of-the-art Aiken readiness center, according to a news release from the S.C. National Guard. In his budget description, McMaster said the facility will “provide the basis for a collaborative effort between military, education, business, industry, and research centers to be able to protect the infrastructure and continue to attract new industry to the state.”
Another $15 million is being provided by federal sources for the DreamPort and readiness complex. DreamPort, located in Columbia, Md., was created by the U.S. Cyber Command in May 2018 to facilitate collaboration between federal and private-sector cybersecurity experts.
The facility, a partnership between the S.C. National Guard and the University of South Carolina Aiken, will be built on the school's campus and near the Savannah River National Laboratory Advanced Manufacturing Center. It also will be near Fort Gordon in Georgia, which is home to the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence.
The facility will provide space for cyber experts in government, academic and private sectors to work closely with cyber operations at Fort Gordon and the Savannah River lab researchers. It will be a hub to develop cyber and technology capabilities, education, research, and workforce development, as well as provide a U.S. Army National Guard cyber training facility.
The South Carolina National Guard has one of five cyber protection battalions in the Army National Guard. The 125th Cyber Battalion is currently headquartered at McEntire Joint National Guard Base. The unit conducts advanced cybersecurity training courses, certifications and collective training to defend networks with military cyber capabilities.
“The university is honored to partner with the National Guard in this important way,” Sandra Jordan, USC Aiken chancellor, said in the news release. “The DreamPort Collaborative will bring cyber expertise to our campus, providing our cybersecurity faculty and students access to some of the best-trained cyber experts in America and giving them opportunities to interface with, work alongside, and learn from leaders in the field.”
Design, environmental and real estate considerations for the facility are expected to begin in the fall, with construction beginning in 2022. Construction is expected to take two years.
“As we advance through the digital age, we must be proactive in fighting cyber-crime,” McMaster said. “This state-of-the-art facility will make South Carolina a leader in cybersecurity. Through collaboration, this hub will benefit both the public and private sector by attracting new industry, creating jobs, and training the next generation of South Carolinians.”t