The imperative of cyber force leadership

Here is an idea, why don’t we launch a re-skilling program for all the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and give them the cyber skills necessary for these roles.

Last month, the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University, Newport, RI, released the results of a study that raised the eyebrows of senior individuals in the U.S. military and government. The study, entitled, “One Leader at a Time: The Failure to Educate Future Leaders for an Age of Persistent Cyber Threat,” says it all.

The national security implications of attacks in the cyber domain demand this be addressed immediately. You would think that since government officials have called cyber security “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face” that we would not be facing a leadership shortage. However, the problem does not stop there.

A respected individual from the U.S. intelligence community stated “there are about 1,000 security people in the U.S. who have the specialized security skills to operate effectively in cyber space. We need 10,000 to 30,000.”

In March 2013 the Wall Street Journal ran a blog headlined “demand-for-cyber-security-jobs-is-soaring” that reported the demand for cyber security professionals continues to grow at a rate 12 times that of the general job market.

The shortage in leaders and skilled cyber security practitioners is placing our nation at risk. Here is an idea, why don’t we launch a re-skilling program for all the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and give them the cyber skills necessary for these roles. They already have background skills and military/intelligence experience that would be very valuable. Some are already cleared, and they understand the military and the hardware that the military uses so they are not starting from scratch.

This is not a new idea; it has been talked about. But talk is cheap. It is time for action. With every passing day that this issue is not addressed the risks to our businesses, critical infrastructure and national security increases.

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