Cyber Defense

Army kicks in retention bonuses for cyber warriors

Army cyber force Fort Gordon

The Army Cyber Operations Center at Fort Gordon, Ga.

The Army, which is making a concerted push to recruit and retain cyber warriors, is for the first time offering selective retention bonus specifically to cyber personnel.

The bonuses, or SBRs, are the product of a personnel measure that took effect May 20 and are available to soldiers currently within the Army’s Cyber Mission Force who are eligible to re-enlist, the Army said in an announcement.

Specifically, soldiers with the military occupational specialty 35Q, cryptologic network warfare specialists, with an additional skill identifier E6 (interactive on-net operator) are eligible for bonuses ranging from $12,300 to $50,400, depending on grade and service commitment, the Army said. Those with an 35Q EA (exploitation analyst) specification are eligible for bonuses ranging from $7,900 to $32,200.

The bonuses are part of the Army’s effort to expand its cyber forces—ultimately to a combined 3,806 military and civilian personnel—and retain them to ensure effective operations. Part of that effort is the creation of a career management field for cyber, CMF 17, that has been approved and is under development. The Army said it will release details about CMF 17 in upcoming military personnel (MILPER) announcements.

"There is still a lot up in the air when it comes to the cyber mission,” Brandon Race, SRB and critical skills retention bonus program manager, said in announcing the bonuses. “This bonus is the first step that identifies the Army's need to retain soldiers with these critical skills. The upcoming MILPER messages outline the transition and reclassification strategies for [military occupational specialty] 17C and is the next step in identifying critical skills needed for all soldiers, who wish to pursue a career in Army Cyber."

Building out the cyber workforce is a focus of the U.S. Cyber Command and the other military services, as well as the Army. Despite a general shortage of talent—in both the public and private sectors—the Army’s Cyber Commander, Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, told lawmakers in March that its Cyber Mission Force was growing “exponentially” and that he expects it to be fully established in 2016 and operational in 2017.

In addition to recruiting uniformed personnel into the cyber force, the Army also is considering a career path for civilian cyber personnel and tapping into the talents of Reserve and National Guard personnel, many of whom work in civilian cyber jobs. The Guard activated its first cyber protection team in October and has plans to add 10 more this year.

About the Author

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

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