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Senate Defense Bill Calls for Better Incentives For Cyber Warriors

May 28, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
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Measure would direct service secretaries to assess the need for military speciality cyber mission designators.

  • Cyberwarriors take to their keyboards to defend against cyber attacks during a simulation at the 2014 Cyber Shield Exercise at the Professional Education Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas, on April 29.

Cyber warfare garnered attention and funding earmarks in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2015 Defense Department spending bill as lawmakers want to see federal civilian jobs pay more competitive salaries to keep up with the industry work force. The measure also calls for a study to determine if the services should change active duty officer and enlisted specialty cyber mission designators.

The committee’s bill, which passed 25-1, directs service secretaries to assess “whether the cyber mission warrants new officer and enlisted specialty designators that are distinct from communications, signals, and intelligence specialties,” and if members with specialized cyber skills should receive special bonuses and incentive pay.

The committee’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $514 billion funding for the Defense Department and national security programs of the Energy Department, lower than the $521.6 billion bill passed by the House of Representatives last week. Both bills include an additional $79.4 billion for overseas contingency operations.

The Senate committee’s bill calls for better salaries and support services for cyber civilian employees working for the U.S. Cyber Command. Additionally, it asks Defense Department leaders to determine if the employees need job rotation programs. Recommendations, outlined in the 39-page readout, include a plan to renew and expand the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) flexible authority to hire world-class scientists and engineers.

The measure now goes to the full Senate for a vote, which has yet to be placed on its calendar. The two chambers must then hash out and reconcile differences. In order for a bill to be sent to the President, the same version must be passed in both chambers.

“The bill approved by the committee makes the hard choices necessary to preserve our military readiness and uphold our obligations to our men and women in uniform and their families in a difficult fiscal environment,” says Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), committee chairman.

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