Marines create occupational category for cyber warriors

Training for new cyber personnel will take place at Twentynine Palms

Although it was launched in June 2010, the Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command has just now achieved full operational capability, said Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally, the command's deputy commander and the Marine Corps' director of command, control, communications and computers.

The new cyber command is growing and acquiring additional personnel, Nally said June 9 at AFCEA International's Naval IT Day in Vienna, Va. He also stressed the importance of creating a cadre of trained cyber warfare personnel.

To meet that goal, Nally created a new military occupational specialty (MOS) for the Marine Corps. He based the training materials on those used for information assurance specialists. The new category, known as MOS 065, will be taught at the Marine Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Besides developing the service’s cyber capabilities, Nally said he wants industry to help ensure the security and robustness of the Marines' networks. Specifically, the service is seeking technologies to create a common operational picture in cyberspace. However, he wants it to go beyond displaying network status to showing commanders how attacks could degrade cyber operations and affect their missions.

The Marine Corps is also seeking ideas from the private sector on power savings. Because the force is expeditionary, most of its equipment must be portable, and Marines end up carrying much of it. Reducing battery consumption would have a major impact on logistics and operational readiness. Since 2001, the Marine Corps' battery requirements have increased by 1,000 percent, Nally said.

The Marines are considering rechargeable batteries to cut costs. Recently, a Marine unit in Afghanistan made a three-week combat patrol with no resupply of batteries. The Marines carried two batteries for their radios and recharged them with small, lightweight solar panels that can be folded and carried in their backpacks.

Based on that success, Marine Corps officials are examining every system with battery power requirements. Nally said the service is looking for mobile, lightweight man-portable electronic devices that consume less battery power and have solar cells embedded in them. The new equipment must be able to securely receive and transmit voice, video and data, he added.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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