FORT MEADE, Md. — Army Sgt. Ryan Mayers is reported to be the best cyber operative in the entire Department of Defense. He has personally hacked into the mainframes of Russia, China, and numerous terrorist groups. That's why he was incredibly excited last month when he was pulled away from leading an elite network warfare team at Fort Meade and temporarily assigned to guard the post gates.
"Oh yeah, I'm pumped up to be here," Mayers said during a recent lull in traffic at the Mapes Road Vehicle Inspection Facility.
"You know, CYBERCOM isn't intercepting as many of Xi Jinping's dick pics without me in the office, but I know my soldiers can succeed without me because I trained them to. And it's not like we had anyone else to fill in on gate duty this week. It's a total honor to guard these gates and protect America."
Mayers is well known around "the Puzzle Palace" for his can-do attitude, fellow soldiers say.
"I remember when they told Sgt. Mayers they didn't think he could access the video feed from Volodymyr Zelensky's Ring camera," Spc. Seth Freund, who works with Mayers, said. "He grabbed a case of Mountain Dew and some Cheetos, and—26 hours later—we were watching the president of Ukraine take bribes in his underwear."
"Mayers is the best man we've got."
Mayers' positive attitude has served him well at the traffic control point.
"Sgt. Mayers is clearly a guy who is happy to serve and he realizes that whatever seemingly bullshit duty I assign him to today is just as important to me as any other duty," says Capt. T.J. Wagner, Mayers' company commander.
When asked if he might be able to contribute more from inside a top-secret cyber warfare facility, Mayers was modest.
"Just because Russia and China are hacking in to our vote-counting election systems and the computers that control our power grid right this second doesn't mean that cyber is the only threat," he said.
"A terrorist could come barreling into this gate at any minute. This mission is just as important as any other mission the Army gives me. That's what they taught me at the Basic Leader's Course."