Cyber Defense

Army cyber chief cites 'exponential' growth in cyber force

Army cyber force Fort Gordon

The Cyber Operations Center at Fort Gordon, Ga., is home to signal and military intelligence non-commissioned officers.

Despite a well-reported shortage in cyber talent in both government and industry, the Army cyber mission force (CMF) has grown “exponentially” in the last year in a half and is on track to be fully established in 2016 and fully operational in 2017, its top commander said.

Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, commander of the Army Cyber Command, told lawmakers March 4 that the force has grown since September 2013, to where 25 of 41 planned teams are at initial operating capability. And in addition to the 41 CMF teams, the command is developing 21 Reserve-component cyber protection teams, trained to the same standards as CMF, for “a total, multi-component Army cyber force,” Cardon said.

As an addition to the active-duty teams, Reserve and National Guard units are an asset to the Army’s cyber defense efforts. Many of them work in cyber operations in the civilian sector, giving them a head start on some uniformed personnel, who may show aptitude but, in some cases at least, have to be trained from scratch. Reserve and Guard teams have augment cyber operations, supporting mission both in the United States and abroad.

The National Guard activated one cyber protection team in October, giving it Title 10, or active-duty, status.

And the Army Reserve recently entered into a public-private partnership with six universities and about a dozen businesses to recruit, train and retain cyber pros. The partnership is taking a broad, grassroots-style approach to building its cyber workforce, recruiting cyber warriors, connecting professionals with employers and looking to generate interest at the high school, and even middle school, level.

"The goal of the program is to train and educate Army Reserve soldiers to be elite cybersecurity professionals through classroom work and field experience," Talley said. "Each of these schools have been chosen for their excellence in cyber security research, teaching and their experience in helping the public and private sectors address cyber security issues."

The schools taking part in the program are University of Washington, Norwich University, George Mason University, Drexel University, University of Colorado and University of Texas at San Antonio. Among the businesses are Rackspace U.S., Verizon, Microsoft, Professional Project Services, Chevron Corp. and Calibre Systems. The FBI also is involved.

In his testimony before Congress, Cardon acknowledged that getting Reserve and Guard soldiers the authority to activate can be difficult, because it can involve coordinating with a variety of state authorities and regulations. He said getting states to adopt a common approach would make it easier.

Meanwhile, the Army Cyber Command has had success recruiting within the service, Cardon said, encouraging cadets at West Point and in ROTC to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Army also is instituting a career management field for cyber warriors, which could be implemented by the end of the year, and has approved pay hikes and bonuses for those in operational cyber assignments.


About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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