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You make some good points and your thinking mirrors that of a significant number of folks within the 17D community. However, I’m not convinced that simply splitting career fields addresses the long-term requirements for resourcing cyberspace professionals. "Organizational missteps" are strong words because, as you state, a lot of good people with the best of intentions, have tried to advance the ball down the field under some challenging circumstances and I would submit that given the constraints and surrounding issues, we're fortunate to be where we are. I'd also submit that we're only a few years toward a desired end state and that while we may not be postured most efficiently, right now, we have built a career force development construct that, admittedly with some tweaks, will allow us the flexibility to meet future needs.

Some perspective, the AF started the move toward a cyberspace career field in the early 2000's and the leadership was well aware that we were building for the long term. The old conundrum comes to mind, "How do you build a good general? Start with a Lt and get back to me in 25 years." The point being that if you want to grow a career force, you only have two options, start from zero or transition a number of folks that are already out there into the new force. Unfortunately, we didn't and don't have the luxury of time to grow a career force from scratch, hence the decision to transition the entire 33S. Additionally, establishing a career force involves much more than just cultivating technical aptitude and experience.

Keep in mind the core purpose of the service component, "Organize, rain and equip." The training pipeline and support functions had to be established to get the career force moving and that involved skillsets that had more to do with management and leadership than just cyberspace (i.e. I need more than just a cyberspace professional to stand up a course at a schoolhouse, I need folks experienced in instructional systems design, I need folks that understand contracting, budgeting, etc.). Also some thought had to be and was given as to how the career force would be utilized and professionally developed; however, these decisions had to be made before US Cyber Command even existed, before the Cyber C2 CONOPs existed, before the combatant command even knew or stated what their requirements would be for forces, and certainly before the Cyber Force Model had been given any thought. However, we knew we had to start somewhere and it's important to keep in mind that we had an established model for grooming cyber professionals because we'd already been supporting NSA for years. So basically, we scaled up what we already had in the absence of solid requirements but with the anticipation that it had to be flexible enough to get very large, very fast.

Another factor to consider is that the Air Force personnel management and professional development processes add another challenge to growing the career force, particularly because it doesn't offer a clean construct for growing and tracking expertise that can be assigned where needed consistently. That's a not a bug, that's a feature that at a minimum ensures you have a large enough pool of talent to choose from and that every technician has some baseline level of training and experience (it also levels the playing field for opportunity).

So while I don't disagree with your arguments, I think it's worth viewing them through the lens of the larger challenge...how do you provision a force (which you believe may not be right-sized currently, but that may have to surge in 2-3 FYDPs in the future), using the existing personnel system (which works pretty well for 90% of existing AFSCs), to ensure we can produce the capacity for a force that may easily outnumber other operational career fields within 10-20 years?

By Lt Col Paul Whi...