army hackers for the armed services
Ms. Peggy Frierson

The concept of Army hackers, in other words, cyber professionals using their unique skillset to benefit the U.S. Army, is now a reality.

According to a new report, the Army’s Cyber branch is growing steadily, with 397 officers, 141 warrant officers and 560 enlisted Soldiers in its ranks. The Army’s cyber mission force now includes 41 teams, with a goal of 62 force teams.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence’s Army Cyber School, a school for cyber training and education at Fort Gordon, Georgia, continues to attract recruits.

There are several reasons for this.

As the Army notes, cyber pros are capable of doing much more than what the law currently allows. In the private sector, they’ve got to toe the line if they don’t want to end up in prison.

Those same professionals, however, can safely and legally flex their hacking muscles under the Army umbrella. They’re needed to “defend the Army network and apply effects against adversary networks, if need be,” the Army article states.

“The good news is, for our cyber professionals, they can do things in defense of our nation that they would get arrested for in the outside world,” said Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel B. Allyn Thursday, while speaking at a cyber forum at the Association of the U.S. Army headquarters. “That’s very attractive to those who are very, very skilled and committed to the security of our country. And for that, we are thankful for both their skill and, just as importantly, for their desire to continue to serve and protect our country.”

In addition to the aforementioned Cyber School, which graduated 21 officers this year and will beat that number next yaer, March 2017 will see enlisted Soldiers attend the Army Advanced Individual Training for cyber. Also in March, Army-developed AIT to defend the network will begin at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Allyn says he expects an initial 300 Soldiers to graduate from that course.

Allyn says attracting and retaining cyber professionals is a going concern for the Army. To do that, lateral accessions — the practice of bringing in officers at a higher rank and higher pay — is one method being considered.

“Not only will we have to apply new accessions tools, but we are going to have to consider, ‘How do you retain this incredible talent?'” he said.

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