Senate committee contemplates new cyber career paths for DOD

Cyber warriors working for the Defense Department could be looking at a pay raise according to a Senate Armed Services Committee defense policy bill released on May 23.

The committee voted to report the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 bill, which would authorize $514 billion funding for DOD and the national security programs of the Department of Energy.  

In terms of cyber-skills recruitment, the bill includes a section that suggests that improvements be made for the hiring of civilian cyber experts. According to the bill, the Senate feels that, “enhanced personnel authorities are needed for hiring, compensating, and promoting civilian personnel supporting U.S. Cyber Command,” requiring the Principal Cyber Adviser to provide appropriate recommendations to the Secretary of Defense within 180 days of the passage of the act.

The bill also directs the Secretary of Defense to assess the viability of a program that would involve predictable assignments of DOD civilians with cyber skills to other military departments, and whether or not job rotations would enhance the professional development and career progression of these employees.  

More generally, DOD would have to “…develop a major force program category and program elements for the Department of Defense future years defense program for the training, arming, and equipping of the cyber mission forces.” Meanwhile, the individual services will have to assess whether the cyber mission will require new specialty designators for officers and enlisted personnel and if the recruiting, retention, and assignment of cyber-related employees should entail bonuses or special and incentive pay.

The House version of the bill does not include personnel provisions related to cyber, according to Defense One. The House of Representatives and the Senate will have to produce a final version of the bill before it can be passed.

Cyber has been earmarked as a growing part of the armed services as threats continue to grow. The budget for Cyber Command has grown to nearly the size of the Missile Defense Agency’s – for fiscal year 2015 DOD sought $5.1 billion for Cyber Command and $7.5 billion for the MDA.

About the Author

Joey Cheng is an editorial fellow with Defense Systems.

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