BOWLING GREEN, Va. –
Col. Rusty McGuire took command of the Virginia National Guard’s Bowling Green-based 91st Cyber Brigade from Brig. Gen. Teri Williams May 14, 2022, in Bowling Green, Virginia. Brig. Gen. K. Weedon Gallagher, the VNG Land Component Commander, presided over the change of command ceremony and the exchange of organizational colors signifying the transfer of command from Williams to McGuire. Williams currently serves as the Vice Director of Operations (Cyber) for the National Guard Bureau in a traditional National Guard status.
Gallagher acknowledged Williams was an impactful member of the cyber community even before she took command of the 91st, and said he imagined complexities of leading a brigade of highly technical members presented unforeseen challenges.
“The prospect of negotiating the equities of the Commonwealth, National Guard Bureau, U.S. Army Cyber Command and U.S. Cyber Command, in addition to the other 31 states with Soldiers in the 91st formation would be daunting to a lesser leader,” he said, adding she excelled at those things during her time in command.
In particular, Gallagher noted significant accomplishments such a reorganization of the brigade’s structure, cyber protection team force optimization and validation, starting the process and advancing the effort to get incentive pay for cyber warriors and developing equivalency and constructive credit for cyber professionals.
“Teri was a tireless champion for her formation and her Soldiers,” he said. “It comes as no surprise she was selected to serve at the National Guard Bureau, and the cyber community is fortunate to keep her in the fight.”
Gallagher said McGuire is no stranger to cyber having held several positions in the cyber operations structure.
“Brig. Gen. Williams has set a true azimuth for the 91st,” he said. “It’s now your charge to keep the momentum moving the brigade forward and increasing the awareness of cyber effects for the maneuver forces.”
He said McGuire possesses all the skill sets required to excel as the 91st Cyber Brigade commander, and McGuire has his full faith and confidence along with the leadership of the Virginia National Guard.
After recognizing the outgoing and incoming commanders, Gallagher shared an experience from visiting 91st Soldiers serving on federal active duty and seeing first hand how they make an impact in support of maneuver operations. He said that while cyber Soldiers understand the ones and zeroes, they more importantly understand they are warriors.
“They deliver affects in the operational environment to the advantage of maneuver forces,” he said. “Our cyber warriors get it.”
He said it is because of the cyber warriors in the 91st that their commander will be successful.
“It’s because of you that maneuver professionals will come to understand the force multiplier presented by cyber operations,” he said. “Teri and Rusty are fortunate to lead such a high caliber team. Thank you for your continued service.”
Williams thanked her command team for their support, and she also expressed her appreciation for the hard work of the Soldiers of the 91st for all they did in support of cyber operations.
“We need everyone one of you,” she said as she encouraged Soldiers to continue to serve.
Williams received the Gold Order of Thor medal from the Military Cyber Professionals Association. The Order of Thor recognizes excellence and special contributions to the American military cyber community, and the Gold level recognizes the greatest contributions to the military cyber community by the most senior leaders.
McGuire recognized the VNG leaders present who helped stand up the 91st Cyber Brigade along with his classmates from Virginia Military Institute Class of 1996 and his family members attending the ceremony.
“What you just saw me do was recognize the people in my life who helped me get here, and that shows how you cannot do this alone,” he said. “We all have a support system and make sure you take time every day to interact and thank that support system because we do not do this mission alone.”
McGuire talked about how the threat has changed over the years and how there are numerous bad actors looking to exploit digital networks for their own gain, but Soldiers of the 91st are able to help defend those networks because of their unique skills and experience. Many of the Soldiers in the brigade work to secure networks for government agencies while other are entrepreneurs in the commercial cyber industry, but they all have a common goal of service to commonwealth and country.
“The country needs you, the commonwealth needs you and your family needs you,” he said. “We need you to stay in and bring others.”
McGuire said the task ahead is difficult, but not impossible, and he accepted the challenge on behalf of the Soldiers of the 91st.