Volant takes command of 91st Cyber Brigade

Col. Adam C. Volant takes the organizational colors of the Virginia National Guard’s Bowling Green-based 91st Cyber Brigade from Brig. Gen. Walter L. Mercer, the Virginia National Guard’s Assistant Adjutant General – Army, to symbolize his assumption of command from Col. William L. Zana Dec. 2, 2017, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — Col. Adam C. Volant took command of the Virginia National Guard’s Bowling Green-based 91st Cyber Brigade from Col. William L. Zana Dec. 2, 2017, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Brig. Gen. Walter L. Mercer, the Virginia National Guard’s Assistant Adjutant General – Army, presided over the exchange of unit colors that represented the transfer of command from Zana to Volant.

Zana will serve as the next Deputy Commanding General of Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa and be promoted to brigadier general, according to an announcement made Nov. 21, 2017, by Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. Volant most recently served as the commander of Task Force Echo, the largest reserve component federal active duty cyber mobilization in Department of Defense history.

“Both of these officers are solid leaders,” Mercer said. “Both will continue to contribute to our national security as senior leaders for many years to come. You can rest assured that the leadership of the brigade is passing from one strong leader to another.”

The Virginia National Guard activated the 91st Cyber Brigade as the Army National Guard’s first cyber brigade at a ceremony Sept. 17, 2017, at Fort Belvoir. The new brigade provides training and readiness oversight for cyber units across 30 states and deploys personnel to meet the demands of growing cyber mission sets throughout the U.S. Army and Department of Defense.

Mercer described Zana as the right leader at the right time to oversee the transition of the 91st Troop Command to the 91st Cyber Brigade.

“This has been a significant responsibility and a real honor to keep us at the tip of the spear in the cyber realm for the entire Army,” Mercer said. “I know that your leadership, your ability to solve complex problems and communicate at the strategic level across echelons and agency lines have been key reasons for our great success.”

Mercer acknowledged that Zana stood up for the National Guard’s first cyber brigade in about 16 months, about 75 percent faster than tradition force structure implementation, and he mobilized the largest formation of reserve component cyber Soldiers in military history in support of Army Cyber Command. During Zana’s command, strength in the brigade went from 57 percent to 96 percent with lower enlisted strength exceeding 175 percent.

Zana was instrumental in establishing the National Guard Cyber Incentives Working Group, secured approval for Soldiers to maintain incentives and bonuses when transferring to the cyber branch and secured increased retention bonuses for all cyber Soldiers, Mercer said.

Mercer also credited Zana with providing expert advice to National Guard and state leaders including the Governor of Virginia, and he said that Zana’s leadership was the key to the success of standing up the new force structure, pulling together the units from multiple states and getting the cyber warriors in the fight quickly and effectively.

“You have shown a level a professionalism and strong leadership to the 91st that has made senior leaders proud,” Mercer said. “You earned the trust and respect of your Soldiers and leaders. I know that you will continue to be a key leader for the National Guard and the entire nation.”

National Guard cyber warriors from seven states officially began the Task Force Echo mission with a transfer of authority ceremony Aug. 15, 2017, at Fort Meade, Maryland. With a significant troop contribution and leadership from the Virginia National Guard, more than 130 Soldiers from California, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Utah came together to form Task Force Echo and assumed the mission from the 169th Cyber Protection Team. The task force operates under the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade while on federal active duty to engineer, install, operate and maintain critical networks for U.S. Cyber Command.

“Col. Volant comes to this command with a diverse resume which includes an impressive amount of cyber experience and knowledge,” Mercer said. “He understands the cyber mission set, he understands the unique needs of the cyber units and he really has a good master of mission command and how to be a good communicator and advisor to military and civilian leaders. Adam Volant is a strong leader, a man of character, and he is a cyber warrior. I trust him completely, and I look forward to seeing great things happen in the brigade under his leadership.”

Mercer and Williams both thanked the families of both officers for their critical support through their years of military service.

Biographies for Outgoing and Incoming Commanders

Zana holds a Masters Degrees in Military Studies and National Security Strategy. He has served at every level of leadership within the Army, from team, squad, platoon, company, battalion and brigade. He graduated as the honor graduate from the Virginia Officer Candidate School in 1993. After commissioning, he was assigned as a rifle platoon leader in A Company, 1st Battalion, 170th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division and later served as the battalion’s mortar platoon jeader. Over the next 20 years he served in various active duty positions at the National Guard Bureau and within the state.

His Federal assignments include mobilization officer, logistics operations officer, strategic communications officer with the Director of the Army National Guard’s Staff Group, assistant executive officer to the Deputy Director of the Army National Guard, executive officer for the National Guard Bureau J3 Domestic Operations, continental United States exercise manager, personnel mobilization and teadiness branch chief and Chief of Staff of the Army Strategic Studies Group fellow at the Chief of Staff of the Army Quadrennial Defense Review Office. In 2010 he graduated from the National War College at the National Defense
University.

His state assignments include commander of Company B, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, S3 operations officer for the same battalion; deputy G3 operations officer for Headquarters of the 29th Infantry Division and battalion executive officer and later commander for the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

His career includes deployments as battalion executive officer in Kuwait/Iraq, chief of National Guard Affairs for Combined Joint Task Force 76 in Afghanistan and and brigade executive officer for 116 Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan.

Zana’s Federal awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, Air
Force Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Army Good Conduct Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation with oak leaf cluster, Combat Action Badge, Air Assault Badge, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Badge, Army Staff Identification Badge and the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge.

Born and raised in Bartlett, Illinois, Volant enlisted in the Army in 1981 and trained as a helicopter crew chief on both the Huey and Blackhawk helicopter. First assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, Volant served with the 1-17th Air Cavalry. Later promoted to sergeant, he completed his three-year enlistment and matriculated at the Virginia Military Institute in 1984. With a bachelor’s degree in English, Volant graduated in 1988 from VMI as a distinguished military graduate and commissioned in the Signal Corps.

First assigned to the 3rd Armored Division as a platoon leader, Volant deployed as a part of Desert Shield and Desert Storm with 2-3rd Field Artillery Battalion. Serving as an executive officer and staff officer, his other assignments included the 101st Airborne Division where he worked as a systems integration officer and infantry brigade signal officer.

Leaving active duty in 1995, Volant joined the Virginia National Guard in 1998 and served as an infantry battalion signal officer, DIVARTY signal officer and was also deployed as a part of Noble Eagle providing force protection in the National Capital Region. He came to the Information Operations Support Center in 2004 serving as operations officer and later executive officer prior to his selection for command. Volant commanded the Data Processing Unit, a Fairfax, Virginia based National Guard element and the largest cyber formation in the Army Guard. During his tour he deployed teams to two theaters, provided forces for the Army Web Risk Assessment Team as well as leading cyber missions with teams of highly credentialed cyber warriors. He later served as the G7, Information Operations Officer, for the 29th Infantry Division located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. In 2014 he was selected as the commander for the Information Operations Support Center. Prior to selection for brigade command, Volant was designated as the commander of Task Force Echo, a cyber mobilization involving seven states providing support to critical infrastructure for U.S. Cyber Command.

A graduate of the signal officer basic and advanced course, Volant also completed combined arms staff services school, the command and general staff officer course, and has masters of strategic studies from the Army War College and a master of science in organization management from Capella University. He has completed the Functional Area 30 information operations course, Security+ certification training, basic CNO planners course, joint information operations course and certified ethical hacker.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Component Medal, Global War On Terror Service Medal, Overseas Ribbon, Kuwaiti Liberation Medal with three stars, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Basic Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge and Aircraft Crewmember Badge.

Read more:

91st Cyber Brigade activated as Army National Guard’s first cyber brigade
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2017/09/17/10356/

Historic multi-state National Guard federal active duty cyber missions begins
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2017/08/16/10185/