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Cyber Workforce: Critical to Defending the Navy in Cyberspace

By the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare

“As the greatest potential source of cybersecurity vulnerabilities, the workforce level of knowledge, training and daily action will either contribute to safe operations or present opportunities for adversaries to exploit. “  SECNAV Cyber Readiness Review, 2019

To prevail in cyberspace against determined, well-resourced, and highly skilled adversaries, the Navy must attract, train, and retain a counterbalancing force of cybersecurity professionals capable of defending our data, systems, and networks. Others have come to the same conclusion – recruiting, developing, and managing cyber workforce talent are key themes in every Federal and Department of Defense (DOD) cybersecurity policy.

Cybersecurity personnel are in high demand. To attract qualified candidates, DOD and the Navy have either begun or expanded existing initiatives to recruit, train and retain the cyber workforce.

  • Congress and DOD have approved direct hiring of government civilian cyber personnel and authorized special pay for them. Fleet Forces Command is in the second phase of implementing this new personnel system, called the Cyber Excepted Service.
  • The DOD Chief Information Officer (CIO) offers cyber recruitment scholarships for college students and retention scholarships for DOD Federal employees and military members. These incentives are available for current and prospective Navy personnel.
  • The Federal CIO’s Council has finished training two groups of students at the Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy, which develops the next generation of cybersecurity talent from those already filling other civilian roles in government.  The Council is now evaluating results from these two groups to further refine the Reskilling Academy curriculum.    

To identify possible skill gaps, the Navy is coding its military and civilian cyber billets by work role and required proficiency level. This is a daunting task – there are 54 work roles, 3 levels of proficiency for each role, and more than 36 thousand personnel filling cyber positions – but the Navy will complete the coding quickly and correctly to ensure it has the right numbers and types of people to defend itself in cyberspace.

CORAL SEA (August 3, 2017) Quarter Master 3rd Class Sharon Stone, from Pittsburgh, Pa., checks coordinates on a computer in the bridge of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) during a replenishment-at-sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Alexandra Seeley/Released)

The Navy is partnering with DOD to formalize the training, education and/or certifications required for each role. The Navy has mapped its schoolhouse training to the 54 roles, and DOD has begun mapping commercial certifications to them as well. When finalized, the DOD roles qualification matrix will be a valuable tool for the Cyber Workforce to assess their suitability for a role and identify a path for career development.

Leaders, supervisors and members of the Cyber Workforce are encouraged to take advantage of the available programs, authorizations and opportunities.   

The critical importance of a ready cyber workforce is well recognized and the Navy is taking steps to close readiness gaps because a fully manned, well trained, and highly proficient Cyber Workforce increases our warfighting capability by reducing cybersecurity vulnerabilities. 

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