26 September 2014

How can the DoD build and retain a strong cyber force?

RALLYPOINT STAFF:


The Department of Defense (DoD) and the US Cyber Command are currently in a panic stricken state. And for good reason, because creating 133 teams of cyber warriors by the end of 2016 is looking more difficult. Most of the talented, energetic young lot of the country interested in the tech field prefers jobs in the private sector and very few are inclined to pursuing technology in the armed forces.

The United States deals with many security threats in their dense cyber network every day and if these are manhandled, disastrous consequences can occur. For the maintenance of national security, cyber warriors are required as much as soldiers themselves, except that this knowledge is not sufficiently popular.

So how does the US Cyber Command recruit the cream of the crop and retain it?

Computer experts and IT professionals the DoD wants to recruit need to be incentivized. People with this expertise are generally reluctant in joining the armed forces. This is mainly due to lack of motivation, unattractive incentives being provided, the comparatively less income and  benefit plans, and potentially more stressful work environment. To form a competent cyber warrior force, such factors need to be eliminated and replaced by significantly better offers.

If the US Cyber Command wants proficient computer experts and to tempt the best into taking up the job, it will have to provide certain incentives, bonuses and privileges regularly to be competitive with the private sector. All service branches are already trying to up their game by developing new recruiting tactics, extended service commitments, training programs, retention bonuses and unique career tracks for the cyber career field. For example, the Navy is offering enlistees an instant boost to an E-4 pay grade if they sign up for a cyber warrior job for six consecutive years. Should other branches implement something similar?

To become a cyber expert and keep up with technology trends, exclusive training is required. The special training is very expensive, especially compared to the DoD’s shrinking overall budget. However, continuous training is crucial to bring in and retain top talent. Now, a 24-week course is offered and chosen people are exempted from many steps of acceptance, leading to immediate training. Many cyber experts are thirsty for knowledge and can appreciate any learning opportunities. What else can the DoD do to keep these experts interested?

Cyber experts have to be especially talented because not only do they require computer skills but also immense knowledge of the cyber network of the military, the threats they have to encounter and the confidential information they have to retain. All service members and civilians who apply go through a “cybertest” which determines whether the applicant has the temperament for a military-related cyber job. That way, the US Cyber Command filters out and selects the best people out there. Complemented with a better income, greater incentives and regular bonuses, they may manage to achieve their goal of a highly competent cyber force.

Do you have any experience in the cyber career field in the military? How can the DoD become more competitive with similar private sector positions?


Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

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