Retired U.S. Army Col. Eric Toler, a former military intelligence commander, will be the inaugural executive director of Georgia’s new Cyber Center, state officials announced Friday. Toler, who is also retiring from active duty the same day, will begin at the center on Oct. 1.
Toler, a 27-year veteran, was previously the commander of the National Security Agency’s outpost at Fort Gordon in Augusta. The Georgia Cryptologic Center, which opened in 2012, specializes in signals intelligence.
“As the commander of the National Security Agency-Georgia and through his experience with the Department of Defense’s cyberspace operations, Colonel Toler has acquired experience that makes him uniquely qualified to serve as the executive director of the Georgia Cyber Center,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in a press release.
Before his NSA position, which ended in July 2017, Toler’s assignments included commanding the Network Warfare Battalion, the Army’s first cybersecurity unit. His active-duty career also included stints in Army Cyber Command and U.S. Cyber Command, as well as deployments to Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
“I am most excited about the responsibility to foster collaboration between government, academia and private industry, which is essential for our national security,” Toler said in the press release.
The $100 million Cyber Center, which opened July 10 , sits on the campus of Augusta University and is operated by the Georgia Technology Authority, Georgia’s statewide IT agency. At the time, Georgia officials called it the single-largest investment in a cybersecurity facility by a state government.
The July ribbon-cutting opened a 167,000-square-foot building, and a second building, bringing to the campus to 332,000 square feet, is scheduled to open by December. Along with hosting Augusta University’s new cyber range, which will be staffed by students pursuing computer science and information technology degrees, the state also plans to use the center to attract existing cybersecurity firms and startup companies.