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Building an Army of Ones and Zeros and the Troops Who Know How to Wield Them

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U.S. Cyber Command staffing

Credit: U.S. Air Force

Intrinsic to the U.S. Pentagon's development of cyberarsenals is the challenge of staffing the Cyber Command.

Some former military officials note that stereotypical models of cyberspecialists are somewhat obsolete. "You'll find that there are a growing number of military and civilian people who are both physically strong and computer strong," says former U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency director Gen. Harry Raduege. The deployment challenge may be partly addressed by the manner in which the Pentagon has opted to embed Cyber Command into existing commands.

The plan calls for cyberspecialists serving the individual branches of the U.S. military to coordinate with Cyber Command headquarters on carrying out operations overseas, says Cyber Command director Gen. Keith Alexander. However, training inconsistencies in the fields of information assurance and ethical hacking would stymie the Pentagon's immediate deployment of cyberoperatives, notes the Cyber Command's Col. Rivers J. Johnson Jr.

Defense officials say that in an ideal situation, Cyber Command would be staffed by exceptional candidates graduating from distinguished and varied institutions, with Johnson stressing that "the [cyber] training would have to be executed to one standard." Johnson notes the command is prepared to use incentives for both recruitment and retention.

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