Uniformed and civilian cyber and military intelligence specialists monitor Army networks at Fort Gordon, Ga.

Uniformed and civilian cyber and military intelligence specialists monitor Army networks at Fort Gordon, Ga. Photo by Michael L. Lewis

US Army Looks Inward for Next Batch of Cyber Specialists

The vast majority of enlisted soldiers are eligible to apply for a yearlong training program.

The Army has turned to its own ranks in hopes of satisfying its growing need for talented cybersecurity professionals.

In June, the agency announced that all E-1- through E-8-ranked soldiers, regardless of their technical background, could apply to participate in a yearlong cyber training program, according to a recent Army press release.

Those successful candidates who complete the program would then be reclassified into the 17C military occupational specialty – also known as cyber operations specialist.

"This is another step forward in manning and managing the cyber branch to meet the needs of the Army," David Ruderman in the Public Affairs Office at the Army Human Resources Command, told Nextgov.

In recent years, the federal government has struggled to recruit enough skilled cybersecurity talent. The number of cyber professional vacancies in government hovers around 40,000, according to the Army’s April 2015 Cyber Private Public Partnership Strategic Vision.

The situation is no different in the Army. “The demand for cybersecurity professionals in the [U.S. Army Reserve] and Army outstrips the inventory,” the notice stated.

Soldiers selected for the Army cyber program are expected to complete a year’s training, starting during the second quarter of 2016. They would spend half their time in Pensacola, Florida, for the Joint Cyber Analysis Course, and starting in 2017, the other half at the Cyber Center of Excellence in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Participants will be assigned a focus area, but they will also have opportunities to become skilled in various, related topics.

"With a lot of other [military occupational specialties], you learn your specific job, and that's it," stated Sgt. Maj. Michael Redmon, Fort Gordon command career counselor, in the release. "These soldiers get an opportunity to sit next to one another and learn from each other constantly."

As cyber operations specialists, these soldiers will be tasked with supporting the military through offensive and defensive cyber operations.

Soldiers have until Aug. 31 to submit their application packet. Successful candidates will be notified in October, according to the release.