WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- Beyond looking at what Soldiers have officially documented in their military records, commanders really have no way to know for sure the full breadth of skills their Soldiers possess -- and which of those skills could potentially be tapped in order to enhance the mission -- unless they ask the Soldiers directly.
Col. James Chatfield Jr., the G-3/5/7 and cyber director for 335th Signal Command, for instance, said he's personally aware of two examples where a Soldier's skillset -- what could rightly be called "extra-military" talent, for instance -- is now being tapped to make the cyber mission stronger.
"He happens to have about 25 years of experience in the logistical process of power management," Chatfield said. "He's not an integrated control system/supervisory control and data acquisition expert, but he understands how power destitution works and what are the centers of gravity. So on his battle assembly weekends, guess what Cyber Command has him helping with? Contingency plans and dealing with power management. He comes in, he's a cyber planner, that's his role, but he brings that additional skill set."
A reserve-component colonel Chatfield knows is similarly skilled in his daily job.
"He's the cyber security chief for the Florida court system. That guy has put together more honeypot concepts -- because people are constantly trying to get in and steal vital information," Chatfield said. "He's probably a pretty good advisor that we might want to leverage when we're looking to do a honeypot of some type of nature in a particular operation -- especially when it's dealing with legal and financial systems."
Chatfield said the Army Reserve, on a regular basis, gathers information from Soldiers about the breadth of their experience in the private sector, not just for readiness, but also for its applicability to the Army mission.
He also said the Army Reserve started working with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, about a year ago, to develop a database of sorts, called the "Cyber Warrior Database" or CWARD for short, that will help the Reserve track the skills Soldiers are developing on their civilian jobs, so that those same skills can be taken advantage of when they don their uniform.
He likened CWARD to being the kind of tool a casting agent might use to find the right actor for a particular film. "Maybe you have a bunch of actors that you represent. When the movie agent comes to you and says they need a particular talent set, you can go into your talent management system and say 'I've got 10 candidates I can send you,'" Chatfield said.
"This is very similar to that." Except instead of acting ability -- skills like crying on cue, or feigning a foreign accent -- the CWARD tracks cyber talents the Army might want to tap into.
"This person knowns how to work on a Linux system -- but this other person knows how to work on a Linux system inside a financial management environment, and has experience with the vulnerabilities associated with that," Chatfield said, citing an example of the types of skills the Army might be looking for among cyber personnel.
Chatfield said the CWARD system is still a pilot program, not yet a system of record, but that the Army Reserve is in discussion with Army Cyber Command about adapting it as a standardized tool for talent management of the cyber force. He also pointed out that CWARD wouldn't be a replacement or competitor to the Army's own Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army -- which will also do similar talent-management functions -- but will complement it.
Chatfield said there are also individual training vignettes that go along with CWARD, so that the skills and talents of the Soldiers it tracks -- right now that's about 400 or so -- can be validated.
"That data then automatically records into the CWARD database," he said. "So let's just say somebody says they know how to do Linux security fundamentals. We have them take a Linux fundamentals course ... and the test results feed automatically into the CWARD database."
While the CWARD system is still a pilot program, Chatfield said it has the potential to make easier the identification of talent for the entire Army.
It allows us to know "that someone is not only qualified in all the standard Army MOSQs and ASIs, those things we normally have, but also they have mission experience on these kinds of missions," Chatfield said. "They have practical experience on these kinds of missions -- both in their civilian lives, the training that we put them through -- and as they get more experience as a Cyber Soldier, as a Reservist -- their operational experience."