The United States Army has promoted the first Army Reserve cyber officer to the rank of brigadier general.
Colonel Robert Powell Jr. was promoted in a December ceremony held at Signal Theater at Fort Gordon in Georgia. Having pinned the one-star rank to his Army Green Service Uniform, Powell will serve as the deputy commanding general of the 335th Signal Command (Theater).
Powell was born in Tennessee and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1991. He was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and started his military career as an armor officer with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.
In 2004, Powell joined the Army Reserve as a military intelligence officer. He commanded the US Army Reserve Cyber Protection Brigade from 2016 to 2019 and recently mobilized to support the Cyber National Mission Force, US Cyber Command at Fort Meade in Maryland.
Powell’s promotion ceremony was hosted by Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Hager, deputy commander of operations, Cyber National Mission Force, US Cyber Command, who Powell met during a deployment in Kuwait. Hager recruited Powell to the Cyber National Mission Force after being tasked with finding talented senior officers for US Army Cyber Command.
“Out of over 200,000 people in the Army Reserve, there are less than 130 general officers,” said Hager. “The jump from colonel to flag officer is a very competitive endeavor.”
Hager added that with his acceptance of the new role, Powell’s allegiance to the Army had entered new territory.
“This is a major event,” said Hager. “This appointment and promotion come with a very large commitment. I often tell leaders that when you are a colonel with 25 to 30 years you are ‘seriously dating the Army. When you become a general, you are married to the Army.'”
Hager told Powell’s wife, daughter, and son, who were present at the ceremony, that they should be proud of Powell’s promotion.
“Rob is the first United States Army Reserve General Officer to come from the cyber branch. That is significant since it demonstrates to our younger troops that there is a path to general officership,” said Hager.