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CTI Veteran Q&A Series: O'Neil "Dean" Gardner

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Give us some background and a summary of military experience:

·      Retired after over 20 years of active duty service in the U.S Army.

·      Spent 18 years in Army Special Forces.

·      Served as Special Forces Communications Specialist, Special Forces Intelligence Specialist, and other SOF specific fields.

·      Multiple combat tours throughout my military career, the majority of which were CENTCOM focused but also deployed in support of military operations in Europe and South East Asia.

Why did you decide to transition out of the military?

I retired from the military to add more stability to my family and hopefully achieve work-life parity.

Why did you choose CTI? I chose CTI because of its organizational culture, purpose, and leadership. Having worked with Dustan and members of his team for almost two years on an earlier project, I learned a lot about CTI as an organizaiton and those who are a part of it. The organizational culture and purpose are in line with what I am used to in the SOF world. CTI has dedicated professionals working towards advancing our military capabilities and protecting our warfighters. I appreciate the fact that CTI functions more like a family or group of friends as much as it does as a professional organization. Everyone has access to each other including leaders, and collaboration tools exists across all levels. That is telling of its leadership approach and model.

What are you currently working on at CTI? And how does your past experience in the military contribute to this? I am currently working on two projects with CTI; one SOF specific and the other Air Force centric. My previous military experience serves me on both projects as I can relate extremely well to the SOF challenges being addressed and can relate to SOF warriors. Additionally, having military experience makes it easier to connect and communicate more effectively with other military members regardless of branch of service. We all recognize each other as service members. We understand there are processes and protocols that must be followed in any endeavor. As such, the learning curve for interaction and integration (when necessary) is significantly less than it would be without prior military experience.

From your perspective as a veteran, was is your opinion of CTI's approach using GOTS and open software solutions? Do you think it is or could be impactful to active duty personnel? Why and how? CTI using GOTS and open software is both cost-effective to the government and CTI. Using open software solutions allows for greater access to the most current and effective tools on the market. This contributes to the rapid development of current and relevant solutions to warfighter requirements. I believe CTI’s use of GOTS and open software solutions is positively impactful to active duty personnel. The speed and security of the tools and solutions CTI develops helps warfighters today and makes available the tools needed to fight and win tomorrow.