Army Reserve launches private-public partnership for cyber warriors

By Lisa FerdinandoFebruary 18, 2015

Army Reserve launches private-public partnership for cyber warriors
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON (Feb. 17, 2015) -- In the face of ever-evolving cyber challenges, the Army Reserve has launched a private-public partnership to build its network of cyber warriors.

Chief of Army Reserve Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley signed a cyber private public partnership, or Cyber P3, with six universities and nearly a dozen employers, at an event on Capitol Hill, Feb. 10.

The program aims to enhance Soldier development and retention, and fill a strategic opportunity for the Army Reserve to provide elite cyber warriors that will serve in the Reserve and in the public and private sectors, Talley said.

"The demand for these cybersecurity professionals and cyber-experienced Soldiers far outpaces the current inventory," Talley said.

Talley noted how the Government Accountability Office estimates there is a need for 40,000 cyber security professionals just to satisfy the government's demand.

"Our belief is the Cyber P3 effort will serve as a seed to enhance these critical efforts and lessen the skilled Soldiers shortage gap," Tally said.

The partnership will recruit cyber warriors, connect cyber professionals with employers, and generate interest among middle- and high-school students for the military and cyber security career fields, Talley said.

Cyber has become another warfighting domain, said Lt. Col. Scott Nelson, Cyber P3 program manager, who noted cyber attacks can cause a wide array of damage - from harming critical infrastructure, exposing personal and financial data, to putting troops at risk.

Working in cyber security entails much more than just knowing code, Nelson said. Cyber warriors must understand risk management, and the business aspects of cyber. He likened it to learning a new language; cyber warriors must become immersed in the environment, he said.

That is why the partnership is so critical, Nelson said, especially for time-constrained Army Reserve Soldiers.

"The most effective way to maintain your competency and technical skills in this space is being employed as a cybersecurity professional," Nelson said.

The universities were selected because they are top-tier schools with multi-disciplinary programs, Nelson said.

As a cost-effective platform the Army can utilize, the partnership benefits the Army, universities, employers, and communities, Nelson said.

Nelson said universities will see a greater demand for their programs, and the employers can help design the program with the university to better address their needs in potential employees.

The skills the Army Reserve Soldiers obtain will benefit both the Army as well as the Reservist's civilian employer, and help protect military and civilian networks.

"What we've really hit is this nexus of excitement and opportunity because employers, universities, the schools, are all saying 'We need this,'" Nelson said.

It is a great retention tool as well, Nelson said. Active-component Soldiers who are thinking of separating might be interested instead in joining the Army Reserve so they can take part in the program and fill these critical jobs.

"Just as the employers have this significant shortage, and the government has a significant shortage - the military has a significant shortage as well," Nelson said. "The missions are outstripping the capability that the Army has."

The universities in the Cyber P3 are University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; Drexel University; George Mason University; Norwich University; University of Texas at San Antonio; and University of Washington Tacoma.

Cyber threats are constantly evolving, Nelson said, and the nation needs to stay one step ahead of adversaries who seek to do harm. This partnership is a perfect example of working together to strengthen the defenses in this new domain, he said.

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