U.S. military to recruit civilian cybersecurity experts
Thu 16 Apr 2015
The U.S. Army is to create a new cybersecurity division, Cyber Branch 17, and is also considering launching a cyber career track for civilians, according to an announcement made this week by Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon.
Cardon, who currently heads the U.S. Army’s cyber command, ARCYBER, spoke to the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on Tuesday about the growing threats and capabilities used in cyber warfare. He argued that creating a cyber career management field for civilians would result in an easier recruitment process, as opposed to recruiting internally and trying to retain the talent, he said.
Cardon maintains that recruiting and retaining talent in the field is often challenging, given internal employment constraints surrounding compensation and slow hiring processes. He explained that current efforts to hire civilian talent included “extensive marketing efforts, and leveraging existing programs and initiatives run by the National Security Agency, Office of Personnel Management, and National Science Foundation.”
He suggested that a more 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 stressed that these processes are in place but that they require “consistent and predictable, long-term funding.”
Of the Army’s $126.5bn 2016 budget (approx. £85bn), $1.02bn has been set aside for cyber initiatives including $90mn to create the new operation headquarters of the Cyber Center of Excellence in Fort Gordon, Georgia. To support this investment Cardon suggested that the Army would need to recruit and retain 3,806 military and civilian staff with “core cyber skills.”
The commander also said that the Army would be working to expand its cyber educational programmes, such as training schemes in industry and civilian graduate courses at establishments including the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Naval Postgraduate School. “We are confident these will serve as additional incentives to retain the best personnel for this highly technical field,” said Cardon.
To conclude his address, Cardon underlined that cyber security should be a top priority for every soldier in the U.S. Army: “We’re exposing all officers to cyber security because this has to become part of the foundational education that we expect them to have.”