This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri May 23rd 2018. If you would like to see the current articles as they are published, you may subscribe to The Belle Banner by calling 573-859-3328, or email, or mail to The Belle Banner, PO Box 711, Belle, MO 65013. Subscription rates are; Maries, Osage, and Gasconade County = $23.55 per year, elsewhere in Missouri = $26.77, outside Missouri = $27.00, and foreign countries = $40.00.
Computer technology is the most rapidly changing and advancing endeavor in which humans are engaged today. Put that rapidly changing system against the military’s agonizingly slow procurement process and you find a big problem. Systems are outdated before the military can get them in their system.
When the current Chief of Staff of the Army, General Mark Milley, was appointed in August 2015, the Army had been trying to decide on a new pistol for almost a decade. Prototypes had been being tested for two years at a cost of 17 million dollars. General Milley was appalled, he said; “We’re not figuring out the next lunar landing. This is a pistol. Two years to test? At $17 million?” Milley said to an audience at a Washington, D.C., think tank on March 10th 2016. “You give me $17 million on a credit card, and I’ll call Cabela’s tonight, and I’ll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine with a pistol for $17 million. And I’ll get a discount on a bulk buy.”
First the need must be established, which requires a study. What is our current stuff not doing that new stuff will? Then there is a funding request, which usually requires action by congress. Once the funding is approved, then bids with prototypes are requested from several manufacturers. Then the thing or the stuff is evaluated, tested. After a final decision is made, then there is manufacturing/production time to get it to the troops. That whole process usually takes years.
In 2002, the Army created the “Rapid Equipping Force”. It was created because of requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is basically an organization that can bypass the normal procurement process and get equipment and/or material, “off the shelf” if necessary, into the hands of troops immediately. It works.
With commercial business computer hacking and foreign governments also getting into devious computer warfare, military leadership realized that the military had to get up to speed fast, in the arena of computer knowledge and ability. Around 2010 all the services started the process of creating “Cyber Commands”. The Army created the Army Cyber Command at Fort Gordon, Georgia (Augusta), and started soliciting soldiers from within the Army, who were already computer experts. The Secretary of the Army, at that time, discussed trying to recruit civilian computer people into the Army up to the rank of Colonel. Congress never considered it, because they found that most computer people in upper level management, with around 20 years of experience, are paid far more than Army colonels. Then it started developing training to create its own computer guru’s. Initially the training was only for current soldiers who had been accepted into the training. Now people can enlist to be a computer hacker.
As an update to this story congress finally did pass a defense bill which allows the services to take people into the military up to the rank of colonel. The services haven’t yet turned that law into regulations.
In August 2016 the Army created a “Rapid Capabilities Office” specifically to get the latest technology in cyber and electronic warfare to the Army fast. It has partnered with industry to keep the Army on the cutting edge of cyber warfare.
This month, May 2018, the United States Cyber Command was designated as a standalone, four star, unified command. General Paul Nakasone was promoted to four stars and moved from the Army Cyber Command to Command the US Cyber Command, under which supervises the cyber commands of all services.
Army MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 17C Cyber Operations Specialist. This Army job requires a Top Secret security clearance, which takes a little time to process because the persons’ friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, teachers and preacher will be interviewed. The ASVAB requirements are high, scoring 112 in ST (skilled technical), which is comprised of the following tests; word knowledge, paragraph comprehension (English), general science, (earth science, biology, chemistry, physics), mechanical comprehension, and mathematics knowledge (algebra), and 110 in GT (General technical) which consists of word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, and arithmetic reasoning. However, if a person really wants to get into this they need to score in the high 120’s or 130’s in both of those areas.
After ten weeks of basic training, the prospective 17C goes to a total of 48 weeks of training. The first phase is the 24 week Joint Cyber Analysis Course, taught by the Navy, at Corry Station, Florida. The subjects taught there are; Discrete Structures, Programming Fundamentals, Computer Organization and Architecture, Operating Systems, Networking Concepts & Protocols, Windows, Unix, Programming, Enterprise Level Networking, Protocol Analysis, Wireless Technologies, Target Research/SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) Analysis, Active Exploitation, Computer Network Defense, and Forensics Methodologies & Malware Analysis. That is the same as an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science crammed into six months. Upon completion of phase one, the soldier moves to Fort Gordon, Georgia for 24 weeks of phase two. The subjects taught there are not published.
For the person who doesn’t want to be chained to a computer screen, but likes to get out in the field occasionally, there is another job which doesn’t require as long a training period, and gets out into the field. Army MOS 29E is currently being changed to 17E and brought under the Cyber Command, is Electronic Warfare Specialist. How would you like to be able stop a tank dead still, without firing a shot, or deactivate an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) without getting close to it, or cause enemy radar to see a clear sky where your aircraft are flying? One night in 2007 Israel bombed a nuclear site inside Syria. Prior to and during the operation (Orchard) their electronic warfare people took control of Syrian radar and showed the Syrians a clear sky.
When the 82nd Airborne Division wants to insure that it is well trained on a piece of equipment or a procedure, it has a competition. Tests are designed and all the units in the division of that specialty compete to see who is the best, and who will have bragging rights for a year, as being the best at what they do. This month is the first annual 82nd Airborne Division Electronic Warfare Competition. Each Brigade Combat Team in the Division has a CEMA Cell (Cyber Electromagnetic Activities). Their equipment is carried on their back, about the size of a full rucksack, with antennas sticking out. They can detect and jam enemy signals, defeat unmanned aerial systems and disable IED’s. They can pinpoint troops and vehicles both moving and stopped in rough terrain (Afghanistan).
The current Army MOS for Electronic Warfare Specialist is 29E. That training nine weeks at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, after basic training. The ASVAB requirements are 100 in SC (Surveillance and Communications) which consists of Verbal Expression (VE), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Auto & Shop (AS), and Mechanical Comprehension (MC), and 100 in ST Skilled Technical which consists of Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, General Science, Mechanical Comprehension and Mathematics Knowledge. This job is basically that of an equipment operator, albeit fairly high tech, whereas the Cyber Operations Specialists operates in the shadow world of recognizing cyber signatures, tracking them, and causing them to do what the Cyber Operations Specialists wants them to do, not what the original operator intended for them.
In the computer science/engineering world experience is the biggest asset. Where a person went to school, to get their degree, may help them get their first job, but after that it is what they know and what they can do that lands the next higher paying job. A soldier leaving the Army after a few years as a 17C, who has hopefully completed a bachelor’s degree, will be looked at by prospective employers as a very experienced IT person, especially in the area of cyber defense.,

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