Cyber Defense

Army graduates its first class of cyber network defenders

Note: This story ha been updated to correct a reference to the U.S. Cyber Command's plans for a new facility, which will likely be at either Fort Meade or Fort Gordon.

The Army, which like the other services is looking to expand its cyber workforce over the coming years, recently graduated its first class of cyber network defenders.

Fifteen soldiers achieved the newly created military occupation specialty (MOS), 25D, after completing a rigorous 14-week course, the Army said in announcing the graduation. The ceremony was held at Fort Gordon, Ga.

"Cyberspace is composed of hundreds of thousands interconnecting computers, servers, routers, switches, fiber optic cables which allow our critical infrastructure to work," said Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald S. Pflieger, regimental sergeant major for the Army’s Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon. "A functional and healthy cyberspace is essential to our economy and national security."

Duties under the new classification include protecting, monitoring, detecting, analyzing and responding to unauthorized actions in cyberspace, and administering network defense steps such as deploying firewalls and intrusion detection systems, the Army said.

Cyber network defenders also will modify systems to protect them against current threats, analyze network traffic for signs of attack, perform risk assessment and develop plans for responding to attacks.

Cyberspace has long been recognized as an important domain for military operations, and the workforce in that field is growing. The Army ‘s Cyber Command is planning to build a new facility at either Fort Meade, Md. or Fort Gordon to accommodate a 1,500-person command center for 45 its worldwide cyber operations. The NavyAir Force and Marines each expect to add about 1,000 cyber operators by the end of 2016.

And many of those cyber warriors will be in uniform. The Navy, which deems cyber operations as inherently military, has said it expects its cyber workforce to be 80 percent uniformed and 20 percent civilian. The Marines plan a more distributed workforce, with about a third in uniform, a third made up of civilian employees and a third being contractors. But whether military or civilian, government or industry, the cybersecurity workforce is in short supply. So the services to some extent is planning to find those people within their ranks, which is why the Army created the new MOS.

"A gap was identified within the non-commissioned officers' career field," Pflieger said. "The next step was to identify the right soldiers."

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