Ceremony officially welcomes new 91st Cyber Brigade commander

Col. Teri D. Williams takes command of the Bowling Green-based 91st Cyber Brigade from Brig. Gen. Adam C. Volant during a change of command ceremony Jan. 12, 2020, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — Col. Teri D. Williams took command of the Bowling Green-based 91st Cyber Brigade from Brig. Gen. Adam C. Volant during a change of command ceremony Jan. 12, 2020, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Brig. Gen. Lapthe C. Flora, the Virginia National Guard’s Assistant Adjutant General – Army, presided over the exchange of unit colors that represented the transfer of command. 

Williams was officially announced as the new commander for the 91st in November 2019 following Volant’s reassignment as the deputy chief of staff for operations for U.S. Army Cyber Command and his promotion to brigadier general. Williams most recently served as the commander of the Virginia Army National Guard Information Operations Support Center and deputy commander of the 91st Cyber Brigade. In her full-time job, she is the G6/J6 and chief information officer for the Ohio National Guard. 

“As many in this room already know, the 91st is a brigade of the Army’s elite,” Flora said. “You, the men and women of the 91st, are the tip of the spear and the trailblazers of the new domain of modern warfare. As the battlefields of our nations wars find their way more often than into the cyber realm, the Army will look to you for answers and a swift response. Under Brig. Gen. Volant’s leadership, the 91st has and will continue to rise to this challenge.”

Flora and Volant first met during their years attending the Virginia Military Institute more than 30 years ago, and Flora described him as a leader with both technical and professional competence. He said that while under Volant’s command, the 91st has been stressed and exercised, and his leadership enabled success at all levels. He credited Volant with continuing the transformation of the 91st, completing the stand up of five cyber protection battalions, fielding ShadowNet, supporting multiple federal mobilizations and taking part in multiple national-level cyber exercises.

Soldiers of the 91st are the best and brightest and deserve a leader of the highest caliber and deserve a leader of the highest caliber with integrity and intellect to learn from history while anticipating the demands of the future, Flora said. 

“Col. Teri Williams is this kind of leader,” he said, and he explained that she had a list of information technology certifications a mile long and was selected for command by a panel of three general officers.

“There is no doubt in my mind about her enduring professionalism and commitment to excellence,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, commanding general of U.S. Army Cyber Command, recognized the Soldiers present and how they represented almost 1,000 Soldiers across the brigade distributed across 31 states in five battalions.

“I have seen your work, and we understand what you bring to the fight,” he said. “The Army – the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve and the active Army – we provide an integrated capability unlike any other service that is operating in the cyber domain and the information environment.”

Fogarty credited Task Force Echo, a National Guard federal active duty mission currently on its fourth rotation supporting U.S. Cyber Command and Army Cyber, as being the reason his command is able to conduct their mission. He further credited Volant’s leadership in the first Task Force Echo rotation as the reason he was selected to serve as the operations officer of Army Cyber Command.

“He took a team that was built of professionals from across multiple states and brought them together into an entirely new environment,” Fogarty said. “If we didn’t have great professionals from the Army National Guard, we would not be in business today. That’s critically important.”

Fogarty said that he didn’t think there is anyone more prepared or better qualified to succeed Volant in command than Williams, he expressed confidence she would lead the brigade extraordinarily well.

He also recognized the Soldiers present as well as those across the brigade for their important contribution to Army Cyber’s mission.

“I understand the sacrifice you make,” he said. “You have full time jobs, full time careers, yet you step up to serve the country and serve the Army. I cannot thank you enough.”

In his remarks to Soldiers of the brigade, Volant said they were some of his favorite people in the entire world.

“I will always remain forever faithful for the opportunity to have held the guidon, but especially grateful to be part of this formation and all you represent,” Volant said. “Soldiers of the 91st dedicate themselves to really hard missions, really hard problems that aren’t solved yet, and they do that at great personal and professional cost. I appreciate your sacrifice, your acumen, and I hope you will accept my gratitude.”

Volant also recognized the importance of employers “sharing” Soldiers with their unit and allowing them to put their expertise to work to support the brigade’s mission.

“It is my privilege and honor to have the opportunity to serve the Shadow Warriors,” Williams said. “I don’t take the privilege lightly.”

Williams shared the story of how she had hoped to wear the 91st Cyber Brigade patch at some in her career, but wasn’t sure if she would ever get the chance.

“Never say never, and impossible is nothing.” Williams said.

“To the Shadow Warriors, be proud,” she said. “You are one of the lucky few who get to wear the 91st Cyber Brigade patch.”

The 91st Cyber Brigade was activated as the Army National Guard’s first cyber brigade Sept. 17, 2017, and it provides training and readiness oversight for cyber units across 31 states and deploys personnel to meet the demands of growing cyber mission sets throughout the U.S. Army and Department of Defense.

The fifth battalion of the 91st Cyber Brigade will be stationed in Indianapolis, Indiana, according to an announcement made Oct. 22, 2019, by Lt. Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the director of the Army National Guard. The newly formed 127th Cyber Battalion will join the 123rd and 124th Cyber Battalions in Fairfax, Virginia, the 125th Cyber Battalion in Columbia, South Carolina, and 126th Cyber Battalion at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts.

The Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division Band provided ceremonial music for the event. 

Biographies for Incoming and Outgoing Commanders

Williams was commissioned in 1997 as a signal officer and was assigned to 124th Signal Battalion, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood where she served as a signal platoon leader.  In 2001, she transitioned to the Corps of Engineers, attending the Engineer Advanced Course in 2001, and then served in various positions at the 112th Engineer Battalion including company commander for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 112th Engineer Battalion.  She held a second command in order to stand up Charlie Company (Signal Company), 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.  Williams was then mobilized to Afghanistan in 2008 and 2012 as the S6 for the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. 

Upon redeployment, Williams was appointed as the executive officer of the 16th Engineer Brigade and took command of the 112th Engineer Battalion in September 2014.  During that time, she also served as the Cyber Lead, Defensive Cyber Operations for the Ohio National Guard and in 2016 she was assigned as the G6/J6 for Joint Forces Headquarters, Ohio National Guard.  She took command of the Information Operations Support Center in the Virginia National Guard from July of 2018. Williams has also been the Officer in Charge for the Cyber Shield Exercise since 2017.

Williams is a graduate of the Naval War College with a Masters in National Security and International Studies, and also has a Masters of Science in Information Systems Security from University of Maryland University College. She holds numerous civilian Information Technology certifications including Certified Information Systems Security Professional, GIAC Certified Incident Handler and Certified Intrusion Analyst, Certified Information Security Manager, Certified Ethical Hacker and multiple COMPTIA certifications to include Sec+. She has also earned the FA30, Information Operations Functional Area.

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.