The U.S. military needs to develop a career field that will encompass the entire career of cyber warriors, said LTC Gregory Conti, USA, who directs the Cyber Research Center at the U.S. Military Academy.
"We need to create a career field from private all the way through general officer," Col. Conti suggested at the TechNet Land Forces conference in Tucson, Arizona. He added that cyber is not just a two or three-year assignment and that cyber warriors need to know they have a future in the military. Furthermore, military members with cyber expertise need to have leaders with greater expertise, and the military must grow those leaders.
Conti made the comments while serving on an academic panel on recruiting, training and retaining tomorrow's cyber warriors.
Retired RADM Andy Singer, USN, Inman chair for intelligence at the Naval Post Graduate School, added that the military needs to "professionalize this element of war," just as it has other military occupational skills.
Fellow panel member Benjamin Shao, associate professor, information systems, at Arizona State University, suggested recruiters should target more women to fight in the cyber domain. He pointed out that last year, for the first time in U.S. history, women outnumbered men in achieving college degrees. He pointed out, however, that women generally shy away from science and technology career fields, even though, he insisted, women are just as capable as their male counterparts.
Shao also suggested the military must find a way to keep up with cutting-edge technologies if they want to attract top talent in the cyber domain. Talented personnel do not want to be straddled with aging technology or bureaucracy, he said. Col. Conti agreed, saying that old technologies "will get your lunch money taken away."
Panelists described a lot of frustration among military members who want to move into cyber but find the process too onerous. Frustration also exists among cyber warriors who are receiving inadequate training to continue advancing their expertise, or who see no future in the military cyber domain.