FORT KNOX, Ky. (March 24, 2014) -- U.S. Army Human Resources Command established a provisional Cyber Branch Thursday, to provide career management, development and readiness to the Army's cyber forces.
The establishment of the branch will ensure the Army maintains visibility of Soldiers with unique cyber skills and talents, according to officials with Human Resources Command, or HRC. The new branch will perform career management services and provide Soldiers with cyber skills a "focal point" within HRC, said Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mustion, commanding general, HRC.
"While there are a significant number of decisions yet to be made on the future of the Army cyber force, we must establish an element dedicated to the assignment and career management of cyber Soldiers," said Col. Robert E. Duke, chief of Operations Support Division, Officer Personnel Management Directorate, HRC. "We will retain enough flexibility in our approach at HRC to adjust to changes as cyber proponency matures, and [as] this force evolves to meet mission requirements."
"As the Army develops cyber capability and establishes a Cyber Electromagnetic Branch, HRC remains aligned by providing capable and dedicated personnel support to this emerging workforce," said Duke. "We are establishing a Branch that consolidates enlisted, warrant officer and officer management and combines functional or designation focus with an organizational focus."
This is different from traditional branch management where one branch manages officers and an entirely different branch manages enlisted personnel. The Cyber Electromagnetic Branch, or CEM, branch will be a hybrid that consolidates and holistically manages the efforts of the entire Army cyber population under one entity, HRC officials said.
"This will enhance stabilization and the ability to gain depth into the specialized field," said Lt. Col. Candice E. Frost, Operations and Plans chief of Officer Readiness Division, OPMD, HRC. "As the Army's Cyber Center of Excellence stands up, the management of movement into and out of the cyber force rests upon Army Cyber's leadership and HRC's approval."
This closely aligned relationship will allow the Cyber or CEM Branch to better support a small, highly skilled, high-demand population in order to maintain personnel readiness in line with Army priorities, said Duke.
"The process is designed to ensure cyber force leadership has visibility of Soldiers with unique cyber skills and mechanisms in place to ensure a stable force capable of executing cyber missions," said Lt. Col. Kurt Connell, Military Intelligence Enlisted Branch chief, Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate, HRC. "What we don't want to do is create inadvertent turbulence in the cyber formation. So, as we set the conditions for incoming and outgoing Soldiers, control mechanisms are collectively agreed upon for each personnel action or assignment to meet both the needs of the Soldier and the Army."
A key part of managing the force is identifying the distinct groups that make up the population in constructing the branch, officials said. The initial organization is established around a set population of military occupational specialties, known as MOSs, additional skill identifiers, or ASIs, and current positions held by individuals in the cyber field.
The CEM branch centers on Functional Area 29, Area of Concentration 29A, MOS 29E and 290A. Additionally, it supports individuals in cyber operations, and those who function as cyber planners or defenders and receive an ASI or Skill Identifier of E4. Awarding this ASI is done by Army Cyber Command and is based on the individual Soldier, unit and mission, HRC officials said. It is not MOS dependent, they said.
"Development of an ASI/SI to identify those who provide support to cyber is underway," Frost said.
Factors such as population management, current and future requirements, training necessities, and growth and maturity within the field may also influence cyber assignments, HRC officials said.
"The personnel requirements are greater than the number of people available to fill them," Duke said. "Developing a mature force able to meet all Army requirements will take time; many assignments can require technical training and a lot of lead time. Training an individual throughout the entire process from recruiting, accessing, entry-level training and other professional military educational objectives to the point of where they can function within the career field of operations is sometimes extensive."