Hiring cyber pros at DoD: Alexander's plan

Monday - 9/27/2010, 6:45pm EDT

Jason Miller

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From "Workforce is DoD's biggest cyber challenge" by Jason Miller on FederalNewsRadio.com:

"Across the Defense Department and all the military services, the shortage of qualified cybersecurity employees is evident now more than ever.

"Between the DoD Cyber Command, the new Army Cyber Command, the Navy's Fleet Cyber Command, the Air Force's 24th Air Force and the Marines Cyberspace Command the dearth of available talent is slowing efforts to bring all of these new offices to full operational capability.

"Gen. Keith Alexander said DoD will hire 1,000 cybersecurity workers a year across all the services over the next few years to help build up that force. But he and his Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines counterparts know it will take a lot of time. The Navy, for example, will increase the number of cyber workers in its Fleet Command to 200 from 130 in 2011 alone.

"Marine Corps Lt. Gen. George Flynn, deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration, who testified along with the other major military services in a second House Armed Services Committee hearing on cybersecurity in the afternoon, said the Marines Corps must improve the way it recruits and retains cybersecurity workers.

"Alexander said the recruiting usually is the easy part. It's the training and retainment where DoD and many others fall short.

"In fact, Alexander said with the soft economy, the National Security Agency is finding fertile recruitment for cyber experts. One recent cyber related position received more than 800 applicants.

"Flynn and others add that also means the looking at the length of enlistment contracts.

"In the Navy, Vice Adm. Barry McCullough, commander of the cyber command, said seamen and women enlist for six years and the goal is to get them into the field as soon as possible.

"He added that for certain skills, such as cryptologist, the Navy offers up to $75,000 if the sailor reenlists for six years.

"Flynn said the Marines also must look at the most appropriate incentive package to recruit and retain employees with the skills.

"Once DoD or the service recruits a soldier, an airman, a Marine or a seaman, they must ensure they are trained according to the same standards.

"Alexander said DoD and the services are developing and administering training jointly.

"The mix of civilian and military employees is another question DoD is trying to answer, as well as how do they complement other partners, whether the intelligence community or the Homeland Security Department.

"Alexander added that the workforce issue will stand in the way of everything DoD wants to do to protect its networks."


Jason joined me for some analysis of the hearings, and what we should be watching. You can hear my conversation with him by clicking the audio link. You can watch each of the hearings through the audio links below.

Thursday morning's hearing with General Alexander:


Thursday afternoon's hearing with the four military cyber leaders: