Vermont is ground zero for Guard's IT training

Vermont is ground zero for Guard's IT training

BY DAWN S. ONLEY | GCN STAFF

Three years ago, Vermont's unit of the Army National Guard set up an instructional center to train soldiers and reservists in information operations.

The Guard designed the center to be a gathering place for military personnel to take classes ranging from basic information operations terminology to a 14-day course on network security capabilities. There were many reasons the Army National Guard chose Vermont to host the technical and tactical training ground: its interest in information operations, its mix of industry and military, or it might have been because of Maj. Gen. Martha T. Rainville, a 22-year Air Force veteran who oversees the Air and Army National Guard units in Vermont.

Since she received the directive for her unit to establish a training center, more than 900 students, including active-duty Army, Air Force and Navy personnel, have taken one of four courses in the Information Operations Training and Development Center.

'We've turned ourselves into a schoolhouse,' Rainville said, with a hint of pride in her voice. 'We train Guard members from other states in the balance of using full-spectrum information operations to help military strategy while teaching students to fiercely guard networks from hackers who have upped the ante on a new breed of threats.'

There's a technical and tactical track to the training, said Lt. Col. Bernie Perron, executive officer of the center.

Many students take the distance-learning Web-based course; some flock to the computer emergency response team course where they learn the function of a CERT and how to develop one. Others sign up for the tactical course, Perron said, where they learn how to use all the data available, and plan and synchronize data so it acts with maximum force.

Rainville was recently elected by the Vermont Legislature as the first and, to-date, only woman adjutant general in the 363-year history of the Guard. She said she is comfortable with her state's involvement as the educational component for such an important area.

She supervises and commands 4,000 Guard personnel and is also the Vermont National Guard's inspector general. She manages a state appropriation of $2.4 million and a federal budget of $74.1 million.

Training is essential

Rainville is quick to promote the information operations center, run in collaboration with Norwich University, the nation's oldest private military college, because she sees training as the key to preventing catastrophic network incidents.


'We train Guard members from other states in the balance of using information operations to help military strategy,' Maj. Gen. Martha T. Rainville said.
But Rainville takes pride in other matters as well. She describes her management style as one that encourages Guard members to put others before themselves, to do what is both legally and morally right and to always practice the Guard's strategic plan.

A statement outlining the Guard's focus, values and vision is posted, at bases and inside armories, to remind citizen soldiers to be willing role models.

'I think it's important to stay true to what you feel is important, and also to have a great deal of patience,' Rainville said.

She had to develop that trait herself, she said, in a high-profile position that gives her extra notoriety because of her gender.

'Being the first woman probably has pros and cons,' she said. 'The high visibility of
it ... people remember you one way or another.'

But she's also accustomed to the challenge. For the better part of her military career, Rainville has been the first female officer in her field. Married and a mother of three, she has a background in aircraft maintenance and experience repairing fighter jets.

But she's just as comfortable devoting her time pushing the merits of the center'one of only a handful of such military-run training grounds around the country.

She reflected for only a second before divulging her secret for effective management: 'You have to take risks, you have to be flexible, but you also have to have that strategic plan.'

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