Aug. 22, 2011

Data Processing Unit holds change of command ceremony

By 1st Lt. Scott Campbell
Data Processing Unit Public Affairs

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — Lt. Col. Randall Cudworth assumed command of the Virginia National Guard’s Fairfax-based Data Processing Unit from Lt. Col. Adam Volant in a change of command ceremony held Aug. 21 at Fort Belvoir. Col. Edward Morgan, commander of the Information Operations Support Center, presided over the guidon exchange that signified the change of command.

 

Col. Edward Morgan, commander of the Information Operations Support Center, passes the guidon for the Virginia National Guard’s Fairfax-based Data Processing Unit to incoming commander Lt. Col. Randall Cudworth. Cudworth assumed command from Lt. Col. Adam Volant in a change of command ceremony held Aug. 21 at Fort Belvoir. The mission of the DPU has dramatically changed over the past 25 years since it was established to provide data processing support to the National Guard Bureau Computer Center in 1985. The unit has approximately 160 Soldiers that conduct a variety of missions including information operations support, web risk assessment, cyber security and computer network defense. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

“Today, we celebrate the underpinning of our freedom, expressed by the transfer of leadership from one capable and competent leader, to another equally capable and competent leader,” said Morgan.

The custom of acknowledging a change in command officers of a military unit is a formal ceremony and dates back to pre-Roman times. The ceremony emphasizes the continuity of leadership and unit identity, despite changes in individual authority, and symbolizes the transfer of command responsibility from one individual to another. This transfer is physically represented by passing the guidon, the tangible symbol of the unit, from the outgoing commander to the next senior commander to the new commander.

A native of Moosic, Pa., Cudworth is a graduate of the Scranton University with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He holds a master’s degree in information assurance from Capitol College.

Some challenges the new commander will face as the commander of the DPU include the ever-increasing cyber threat and improving the integration of cyber assets into the DPU’s support to civil authorities, among others.

“The DPU is the force multiplier of the future. It’s similar to what the tank or the machine gun were to WWI, and I am privileged to be entrusted with such a profound responsibility,” said Cudworth.

The DPU is a unique unit comprised of approximately 160 Soldiers. The unit was originally designated the 123rd DPU when it was established in January 1975. The DPU’s original mission was to provide data processing support to the National Guard Bureau Computer Center and during the 1980s the 123rd DPU supported an NGB initiative to field multiprocessor UNIX servers to all 54 states and territories. Shortly after Operation Desert Storm, the 123rd DPU was re-designated the Virginia Data Processing Unit.

The DPU adapted to the changing IT environment by disbanding mainframe support teams and forming computer desktop support teams that provided support both during the weekends and during annual training. Since 2001, the DPU’s mission has expanded far beyond NGB, acquiring an Information Operations mission, a Computer Emergency Response Team mission and an Army Web Risk Assessment mission.

 

Col. Walt Mercer, commander of the 91st Troop Command, presents Lt. Col. Adam Volant with the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his outstanding service as the commander of the Fairfax-based Data Processing Unit. Lt. Col. Randall Cudworth assumed command from Volant in a change of command ceremony held Aug. 21 at Fort Belvoir. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

The unit provides direct and indirect support to the Commonwealth of Virginia and to a variety of Department of Defense organizations to include United States Army Cyber Command, the U.S. Army 1st Information Operations Command, Strategic Command, United States Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and continued support to the National Guard Bureau.  

Soldiers from the DPU have been actively conducting real-world missions for the duration of the unit’s history in the U.S. and overseas most recently in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Currently, 40 percent of the DPU is deployed on active missions in support of various organizatons.

“My three years in command have granted me a privileged opportunity see both the DPU and Cyber move forward to the front lines of today’s operational environment,” said Volant.

A native of Bartlett, Ill., Volant is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, Class of 1988, with a bachelor’s degree in English. He holds a master’s degree in organizational management from Capella University.

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