By David Vergun
To better manage personnel, “the Army created the Cyber Branch 17 [for soldiers] and is exploring the possibility of creating a cyber career field for Army civilians,” Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon told U.S. senators.
Cardon, commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command, or ARCYBER, testified before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities during a hearing on “Military Cyber Programs and Posture,” April 14.
Establishing a cyber career management field for civilians may be easier than recruiting enough of them to fill it, and then retaining that talent, he said.
Recruiting and retaining Army civilian cyber talent “is challenging,” he said, “given internal federal employment constraints regarding compensation and a comparatively slow hiring process.”
Current efforts to attract and retain top civilian talent include “extensive marketing efforts, and leveraging existing programs and initiatives run by the National Security Agency, Office of Personnel Management, and National Science Foundation,” he said.
The targeted and enhanced use of recruiting, relocation and retention bonuses, and repayment of student loans will improve efforts to attract, develop and retain an effective cyber civilian workforce, Cardon said. These authorities exist but require consistent and predictable, long-term funding.
The Army’s $126.5 billion fiscal year 2016 budget is now in lawmakers’ hands. $1.02 billion of that budget is for cyber, including $90 million to build out the new Cyber Center of Excellence (CoE) operations headquarters on Fort Gordon, Georgia, he said.
Cardon said the Army determined it needs 3,806 military and civilian personnel with core cyber skills.
Cyber’s Uniformed Side
Cardon noted the Army is having no trouble filling the cyber ranks with soldiers. The CoE, in collaboration with ARCYBER and other stakeholders, is working to implement a cyber career management field for enlisted personnel that will encompass accessions, career management, and retention this fiscal year.
The Army recently approved special-duty assignment pay, assignment incentive pay, and bonuses for soldiers serving in operational cyber assignments. The Army is expanding cyber educational programs, including training with industry, fellowships, civilian graduate education, and utilization of inter-service education programs including the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Naval Postgraduate School as incentives to retain personnel.
Cyber Teams Forming
As of today, 25 of 41 Cyber Mission Force teams are on mission. Cardon expects to have all 41 on mission by the end of fiscal year 2016. The Army is building 21 additional Army Reserve and National Guard Cyber Protection Teams which will be employed with combatant commanders as part of the joint cyber effort. There will be a total of 133 cyber teams from all the services.
Besides defending the Department of Defense’s own networks and the U.S. homeland, Cyber Command will have a role to play in protecting allies as well as the U.S. private sector.
Cardon stressed to the senators that cyber security is every soldier’s business.
“We’re exposing all officers to cyber security because this has to become part of the foundational education that we expect them to have,” he said.
“This is a competitive space, so, we’re never really going to be done in this space,” he said, regarding the future of cyber space efforts. “This is going to have to be something that we just constantly assess on a regular basis.”
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