WASHINGTON -- Within a week or so, the first-ever U.S. Army Cyber Direct Commissioning Program board will meet to select up to five candidates for the first year of a five-year pilot program, said Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone.
Nakasone, commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command, discussed the CDCP during a Dec. 6 media roundtable at the Pentagon. He said so far that over 50 applications have already been received.
By early February, civilian candidates will attend a six-week direct commissioning course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, followed by a 12-week Cyber Officer Basic Leadership Course at Fort Gordon, Georgia. After graduation, they will be commissioned first lieutenants.
The reason the Army decided to go the direct commissioning route is that changes in cyberspace are occurring rapidly, so a ready-trained and talented technical expert who wants to serve his or her nation is what the Army thinks is needed at this time, Nakasone said.
All of the candidates must have a face-to-face interview at Fort Gordon, he said. This will enable interviewers to gauge whether or not a candidate is suited for the Army and for the cyber mission.
The interviewers will be looking for someone who is a team player, since both cyber offense and defense is organized around 41 teams, Nakasone said
Other traits include drive, dedication and commitment, he added.
Other requirements are: U.S. citizen, four-year degree, able to meet physical fitness standards and ability to obtain a top-secret security clearance, he said.
On the technical side, experience can include cybersecurity, software or hardware engineering and product management. The full listing of 14 skills, along with other requirements, he said, can be found on www.goarmy.com.
Maj. Gen. Patricia A. Frost, director of cyber within the Army's G-3/5/7, said that to be accepted into the program, "it's OK to be innovative but not successful, as in having a patent. That's why the person-to-person interview is such an important part of the process."
She added that the Army wants someone with potential, drive, energy, creativity and new ideas on how the Army can gain the upper hand in the cyberspace domain.
The reason the Army isn't growing these cyber operators from the current force is that it would take several years to attain the technical skills these candidates have, she said.
Once the new lieutenants enter the cyber force, they will be helped along by designated mentors, she added.
"The biggest incentive for these candidates is that every day you're going to go toe-to-toe with the best hackers in the world and you're defending our nation," Nakasone said. "If you want that opportunity, come and join us in the Army."
(Follow David Vergun on Twitter: @vergunARNEWS)