WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Army Reserve is partnering with six top-tier universities and 12 employers in a first-of-its-kind effort to create a pathway for future cyber warriors. On Feb. 10, the Army Reserve Cyber Private Public Partnership Program brought together leaders of industry and academia with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to address a critical need for expertise in the cyber domain.

"The demand for these cyber security professionals and cyber experienced Soldiers far outpaces the current inventory," said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, chief of Army Reserve and commanding general, Army Reserve Command. "The GAO (Government Accountability Office) estimates that there is currently 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."

A GAO study, published Jan. 30, identifies cybersecurity as one of six federal workforce occupations facing mission-critical skills gaps, business and industry face similar shortages.

"This program addresses the Army and Department of Defense need for increased cyber capability by creating a pool of Citizen-Soldiers who combine civilian skills, education and knowledge with military expertise," said Lt. Col. Scott Nelson, P3's program manager for Cyber and former deputy commanding officer of the Army Reserve Cyber Operations group. "It also supports the Army in recruiting and retaining talented cyber warriors by providing opportunities for active duty transitioning into the Army Reserve."

According to Joe Martore, president and chief executive officer of CALIBRE Systems Inc., the partnership introduces a great opportunity for all the participants. "The P3 cyber initiative identifies a mandate and a forum for universities, corporations and the Army Reserve to make a significant impact in an innovative and dynamic way."

The Army Reserve is looking to build foundational programs that support our Soldiers, enhance their skills, education and training to develop continuously ready cyber Soldiers who can match their military and civilian career with continuous education opportunities at top-tier regional schools.

George Mason is among the universities tailoring its curriculum to address the needs of the military.

"This partnership with the Army Reserve enhances our ability to protect the nation's infrastructure and enhance the operational readiness of the Army," said Dr. Kenneth Ball, dean of the Volgenau School of Engineering.

Texas Congressman Will Hurd came to the event to show support for the University of Texas at San Antonio and Rackspace, both of which are in his hometown, but also feels strong ties to the Army Reserve and its mission. "I spent nine years undercover in the CIA, and have worked with many talented Army Reserve Soldiers in the Middle East and South Asia. Cybersecurity is an important issue that we need to confront, and it's great to see the Army Reserve and UTSA leading the way. I'm on the Information Technology Subcommittee for Oversight and Government Reform, as well as the Committee for Homeland Security, so I'm ready to help this important partnership any way I can."

"The goal of the (P3 Cyber) program is to train and educate Army Reserve Soldiers to be elite cyber security professionals through classroom work and field experience," said Talley. "Each of these schools have been chosen for their excellence in cyber security research, teaching and their experience in helping the public and private sectors address cyber security issues."

University partners are: University of Washington, Norwich University, George Mason University, Drexel University, University of Colorado and University of Texas at San Antonio.

Corporate partners include: Rackspace U.S. Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Microsoft Corp., Professional Project Services Inc. (Pro2Serve), Chevron Corp. and CALIBRE Systems.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also a partner in this effort.

The Army Reserve Private Public Partnership Office builds and enhances mutually beneficial partnerships between the civilian and military communities. This is accomplished by developing a supportive environment for Soldiers, veterans and family members striving to create and enhance career and training opportunities.