This is the first article in a series on individuals who have served in the military.

Amyn Gilani is the CEO of Maverick Advisory Group, and an experienced cybersecurity practitioner. He has worked at organizations such as the National Security Agency, US Cyber Command, the Department of Homeland Security, Goldman Sachs, and Booz Allen, specializing in cyber incident response, threat intelligence, and red team operations that test procedures in the event of an actual threat. He now consults early-stage cybersecurity startups in executive roles, helping them grow.

While still a 17-year-old teenager, the September 11th attacks had a profound impact on Amyn. Witnessing the devastation inspired him to work for the country's security, and he requested his mother to sign his enlistment papers. He took the  armed services aptitude test entry exam to qualify for intelligence operations and scored high enough to be accepted. He then served in the United States Air Force as an Intelligence Analyst from 2004-2010. Serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom provided him with the opportunity to support the country and make a meaningful difference.

Caption Amyn Gilani

Amyn Gilani.
Amyn Gilani.

During his six-month tour of duty in Iraq, Amyn served as an intelligence operator working on a range of military operations, including intelligence collection. He recalls losing teammates while serving in Iraq and the long grueling days working in 110- degree temperatures, but he braved the discomfort for his calling. He was among a team of airmen who were awarded the Joint Commendation Medal for their service at the task force in Iraq.

“The greatest challenge of being in a warzone is the immense demand exerted on one's mental and physical capacity to maintain composure during high-pressure situations,” states Amyn. Despite the challenges and dangers, he feels that the opportunity to serve during a time of war enabled him to grow as an individual and truly appreciate the sacrifices made by those in uniform.

After his service ended, Amyn received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. In 2018, he became a Fellow at the National Security Institute at the George Mason Law School, where he helped bridge the gap between technologists and policymakers.

Cybersecurity has become extremely important as we see foreign governments, agencies and  cybercriminal groups gaining unauthorized entry into sensitive networks, both for state-sponsored espionage as well as commercial espionage to access trade secrets and disrupting normal  commerce. Says Amyn:

 “The consequences of destructive cyber attacks can be absolutely disastrous. What would happen if power grids were compromised, plunging entire cities      into darkness and leaving hospitals and vital services helpless? The financial sector could suffer devastating losses, impacting businesses, individuals, and the overall economy. Even transportation systems like airports and railways could grind to a halt, disrupting travel and commerce. And let's not forget about the menace of ransomware, which can lock organizations out of their own systems and demand a fortune to restore access. The fallout goes beyond just money — it erodes public trust too.”

In cyber security, notes Amyn, the toughest challenge can be to detect an ongoing remote attack. Army General  Paul Nakasone has said that while every threat is impossible to detect, the best way to be prepared for these threats is “with people… the men and women of the U.S. Cyber Command working with NSA and partners here and abroad”

Some of the most crucial skill sets for military service include strong communication, adaptability, resilience, leadership, technical expertise, and teamwork. These skills enable efficient operations, quick adaptation, while overcoming challenges, effective decision-making, and collaborative success. Ongoing development and refinement are key for personal and professional growth in the military.

Amyn’s desire for service extends to local politics. He ran for the  Colleyville (Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs) City Council in 2021 and 2022. While he did not win, he did manage to garner 40% of the vote, and is still engaged with the city and school district.

Through his service, Amyn witnessed firsthand the transformative power of acts of kindness and support. He remarks that "Ultimately, faith and service have been intertwined in a symbiotic relationship. By aligning my faith with my commitment to service, I have found a profound sense of fulfillment and purpose, driven by a genuine desire to positively impact the lives of others and make the world a better place, one act of service at a time."