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CHIPS Articles: Q&A with U.S. Navy CTN1(IDW) Alden Curnutt

Q&A with U.S. Navy CTN1(IDW) Alden Curnutt
Recognized for outstanding leadership and technical expertise
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2016
Cryptologic Technician Networks First Class Petty Officer Alden Curnutt attended Navy Basic Training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, in 2010. After successfully completing recruit training, he reported to Cryptologic Technician Networks "A" School where he graduated with honors in 2011.

Curnutt’s first assignment was to Navy Information Operations Command Norfolk where he served as Technical Lead and Team Lead for the Navy Red Team in support of fleet readiness by leading compliance-based network assessments for the numbered fleets. While at NIOC Norfolk, he qualified as Enlisted Information Dominance Warfare Specialist, advanced to Petty Officer Second Class and earned a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

In May 2014, Curnutt transferred to U.S. Cyber Command, where he was advanced to Petty Officer First Class and requalified as Enlisted Information Dominance Warfare Specialist. He currently serves as Lead Developer for USCYBERCOM's worldwide cyber command and control capability and as a Navy Element Division Lead Petty Officer.

For his outstanding leadership, Curnutt received a Military IT Leadership award at the 9th Annual Spring Military IT Leadership Awards Dinner that recognized outstanding officers and enlisted service members across each of the services and the joint community for their contributions to IT excellence. The awards were sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Washington, D.C., chapter.

The AFCEA Washington, D.C., chapter recognized 10 members (two enlisted and two officers stationed anywhere in the world) who were nominated for their contributions in calendar year 2015.

Four additional awards, for two officers and two enlisted, were presented to service members assigned to a joint billet during the time of their demonstrated leadership. Special consideration was given for decisive bravery, according to the awards criteria.

CHIPS asked CTN1(IDW) Curnutt to discuss his career in cybersecurity in May.

Q: Why did you choose the Navy's Cryptologic Community for a career?

A: While in my early college years, I originally contracted with the U.S. Navy as a Rescue Swimmer and attended the Navy's Naval Aircrew Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. However, I was unable to complete the training due to physical injury and was transferred to a holding unit. When selecting which rate to convert to, I chose Cryptologic Technician Networks (CTN) — mostly because my father was very involved in the early days of computing — and I always looked up to him. In many ways, I wanted to follow in his footsteps and work with those black terminal windows (and know what I was doing).

Q: Can you talk about the training you have had?

A: After transferring to Pensacola's Center for Information Dominance (CID), I attended the six-month Joint Cyber Analysis Course (JCAC), a CTN Apprenticeship School, which provided me with a mile-wide, two-inch deep perspective of computing and the numerous opportunities for specialization.

Following completion of JCAC, I worked on the Navy Red Team which specialized in offensive network testing. I spent my three years with the team training as a Certified Ethical Hacker and honing my technical expertise on Windows, Linux, networking devices and more. After changing stations to USCYBERCOM, I received in-depth on-the-job training (OJT) as a web developer where I excelled as the lead developer for USCYBERCOM's Cyber Command and Control Portal for Operations (C3PO). Today, I continue to receive web development and programming training from professional developers working on another USCYBERCOM effort called CENTROPY.

Q: Can you discuss the type of work that you do, specifically, your leadership role?

A: My work with USCYBERCOM has been an extremely rewarding experience in which I have fulfilled the role of web developer for USCYBERCOM's Cyber Command and Control Portal for Operations (C3PO), an enterprise command and control platform for the cyber mission domain and for CENTROPY, a Situational Awareness and Command and Control platform.

After receiving extensive OJT, I became the team's lead developer and point of contact for C3PO's deployment to a new major version, mitigating system bugs and providing vital capability development. I also managed the team's training complete overhaul, including presentation materials and personnel training for five Joint Force Headquarters.

Aside from my work as lead developer, I also fulfill the role of Leading Petty Officer (LPO) for the USCYBERCOM Navy Element's 2nd Division, as well as Chief Petty Officer (CPO365), a program that enables Navy Chiefs to mentor and lead Navy First Class Petty Officers. As LPO, I manage and lead several Sailors throughout several weekly division involvement evolutions, as well as key administrative tasks to keep each Sailor prepared to effectively operate at USCYBERCOM.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to discuss?

A: While I am very proud to receive awards, such as the AFCEA IT Leadership Award, it cannot be overlooked that there was an incredible team of military and civilian professionals behind any success I received. From the intensive technical training that enabled my skills, to the mentorship that I received from naval and Joint leaders, to the friendship that got me through the difficult days, I would like to share my success and appreciation with those that were instrumental to my journey.

Cryptologic Technician Networks First Class Petty Officer Alden Curnutt
Cryptologic Technician Networks First Class Petty Officer Alden Curnutt
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