Army announces service, civilian cyber workforce pilots

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The Army announced a pair of new pilots surrounding its cyber workforce, one for servicemembers and another for civilian employees.

The first, which came directly from the Department of Defense and spreads across all the services, will look at civilian direct commissioning.

“Much like we do with lawyers and doctors and other career fields for the Army, DoD has now asked us to do a pilot program by service that we can conduct looking at skill sets that we could bring on direct commissioning to the cyber career field,” Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, director of the Army’s cyber directorate at the Pentagon, said during a Feb. 8 media roundtable.

Hot off the press, and official as of Jan. 30, 2017, Frost did not have many details on the pilot but explained it will improve recruitment of skilled cyberspace personnel. Congress is giving the services until 2020, at which time each service secretary will submit a report on their findings as to implementation of the pilot. There are no funding details yet, she added.

The second is a civilian cyberspace-effects career program for Army government civilians. Frost said the civilian track is similar to the intelligence career program, IT career program and the like.

According to Frost, the Army didn’t wait for the other services because of civilian feedback. During town halls, civilians told top brass that even though there is a career field for soldiers in cyberspace — the 17 series — they wondered why they weren’t given the same opportunity.

In regard to operational cyber forces, Frost said of the 41 cyber mission teams that the Army provides to Cyber Command as part of the 133-team total, 30 of those have reached full operational capability, with 11 teams at initial operational capability. The cyber mission force as a whole reached IOC in October this year.

Frost asserted the Army will likely be early in meeting the 2018 cyber mission force deadline to become fully operational.

“As teams are built, the Army is building them to initial operational capability and then putting them right into the fight, in contact in cyberspace,” said Brig. Gen. J.P. McGee, deputy commanding general for operations at Army Cyber Command. As soon as the teams are created, they are put into operational use, he added.

The majority of the effort against the Islamic State group in cyberspace is offensive, McGee explained, but there is a defensive aspect that supports deployed forces by ensuring their networks remain secure. Cyber forces are both deployed in theater and remotely conduct operations from within the United States, he said.

Since the DoD information network, or DoDIN, is a global network, its defense is Cyber Command’s No. 1 mission. The “defense in depth” mission of protecting this network from adversaries is something the services do in conjunction with Joint Force Headquarters-DoDIN, the defensive operational arm of Cyber Command.

“We tend to get geographically bound, but in the cyber domain, the logical layer has no geographic boundary,” Frost said.