Retired Col. Eric Toler received the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and two Bronze Star Medals during his 27-year military career.
Earlier this month, he added another distinction to his résumé as he was inducted into the Army ROTC Hall of Fame as part of the 24-member Class of 2021.
The Hall of Fame honors graduates of the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps who have distinguished themselves in military or civilian pursuits. It was established in 2016 as part of the ROTC Centennial celebration while providing a means to honor Army ROTC alumni who have made lasting, significant contributions to the nation, the Army and the history and traditions of the Army ROTC Program.
Augusta University’s Department of Military Science nominated Toler on behalf of AU.
“I was quite surprised, very honored, and very humbled,” said Toler, who is now the executive director of the Georgia Cyber Center. “I did not know Lt. Col. (Jeffrey) Keenan and the Cadre had nominated me for the honor … I was more touched by their thoughtfulness in nominating me than actually being selected.”
During his career, Toler was a leader in the military intelligence community and the Army. He helped in the development of cyberspace operations capabilities for the Army and the Department of Defense. He also served in key foundational roles within Army Cyber Command and U.S. Cyber Command. His active-duty career culminated as the Commander of National Security Agency— Georgia, shaping the future of cyber operations within Fort Gordon, Georgia and beyond.
Keenan, chair of the Military Science Department and professor of military science, said he interacts frequently with Toler, who has provided “wise counsel in the growth of our program and the engagement of our cyber majors.”
“Toler’s service record speaks for itself … his service after taking off the uniform stands out,” Keenan said. “His leadership in the growth and development of the Georgia Cyber Center has helped change the future of the CSRA. We are proud to have him as an advocate and supporter of our department.”
Included in his induction bio, Toler “led the creation of an ecosystem of collaboration to help solve the state’s and nation’s most challenging cybersecurity problems. Driving innovation through education, training, research and practical applications between private and public industries, he ushered in a new era for the Augusta-area.
His leadership shaped the future of cyber within the Department of Defense and aided in the revitalization of the industrial future for the CSRA. His dedicated service to the nation continues as he leads the engine driving the innovation and industrial change for the Augusta and CSRA landscape.”
Toler has been able to rely on his vast military experience in his current role.
“Public service was something I always felt called to do, and serving in the military was a specific calling I received after I enrolled in my university’s ROTC program over 30 years ago,” Toler said. “I was blessed with a wonderful career in the U.S. Army for almost 28 years, but during my third deployment to Afghanistan in 2017, I felt the Lord was leading me in a new direction with the opportunity at the Georgia Cyber Center. My experience leading military cyber operations and standing up new, unique organizations have been invaluable in my role at the Georgia Cyber Center.
“My affinity for national security was also realized in our mission at the Georgia Cyber Center, especially in our promotion of cybersecurity as a career field. One of the unique aspects of cybersecurity is that regardless of where you work — a government agency, an energy company, a financial institution, etc. — you’re helping protect our country and citizens from malicious cyberattacks. Finally, one of my greatest joys in life is helping people achieve their career and life goals, and it has been a tremendous blessing in my role at the Georgia Cyber Center to help coach, teach, and mentor students, military veterans, and others wanting to pursue a career in cyber.”
Toler was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army in 1990 after graduating from Henderson State University in Arkansas. From there he has been stationed or was a student at Camp Stanley, South Korea; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Huachuca, Arizona; Heidelberg, Germany; Bosnia and Herzegovina during a 10-month deployment; Germany; Dexheim, Germany; Kosovo for a six-month deployment; Wiesbaden, Germany; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Fort Meade, Maryland; Iraq for two short deployments; Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on deployment three times for a total of two years and four months; Arlington, Virginia; and Washington, D.C.