By U.S. ArmySeptember 12, 2019
WASHINGTON -- Since late 2017, the Cyber Direct Commissioning Program has allowed talented civilians a fast track to becoming an officer, attracting qualified civilian programmers, software engineers, developers, and data scientists to help the Army develop and execute programs and equipment to support its operations in cyberspace.
This program has given qualified individuals the opportunity to join the Army as first lieutenant. On top of that, they may be eligible for a student loan repayment of up to $65,000 over the course of the officer's initial three-year term. Most applicants can be categorized as prior-service enlisted military personnel, government employees and contractors, private sector workers, and academics.
1st Lt. Ryan Greer is one such individual who successfully completed the Cyber Direct Commissioning Program, taking his professional goals and ambitions to the next level.
AT WHAT POINT IN YOUR LIFE DID YOU REALIZE YOU WANTED TO JOIN THE ARMY AND BE PART OF SOMETHING BIG?
As far back as I can remember, I have wanted to be part of something bigger than myself. However, it was only a few short years ago that I started to see the Army as the organization for me.
EVERYONE'S PATH TO BECOMING COMMISSIONED IS UNIQUE; WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE FOR YOU?
For me, the process started a couple of years ago. I had recently become a volunteer firefighter and was looking for other ways to serve while still progressing my career as a software developer. I was considering applying for OCS when I came across the Cyber Direct Commissioning program on GoArmy.com.
After thorough consideration, I decided this was a great opportunity for me to use my civilian skills to serve my country. I applied for the program in July 2018, interviewed over the phone shortly thereafter, and interviewed on site in Fort Gordon that August. I was selected in September 2018 and went to MEPS not long after. Between October and December I completed the paperwork and left for Fort Benning (DCC) in January 2019.
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF THE BASIC OFFICER LEADER COURSE (BOLC) AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
Overall my experience at BOLC was positive and I relied heavily on my peers to help me overcome challenges. With that in mind, adapting to the increased responsibility of being an officer with the loss control inherent to being in the Army has been the most challenging aspect.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPBRINGING AND HOW IT HAS SHAPED YOUR ARMY CAREER?
I grew up with both parents working in public service. They showed me that it is more important to serve others than myself. If not for the example set by my mother and father I would not have considered the Cyber Direct Commissioning program.
WHAT IS A CHARACTER TRAIT OR PROFESSIONAL SKILL THAT HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST?
I believe integrity to be the most important character trait one can have. I also believe that the ability to see the bigger picture while understanding the details will be a great asset in my career. I have the ability to understand the technical details while also seeing the bigger picture and how my work fits into it. I also have an ability to quickly understand existing processes and find alternatives options to improve them. I spent most of the last five years working as a consultant helping a variety of customers build better software by figuring out how everything fits together, understanding their unique workflows, and developing products to improve both the technical and human aspects of the process.
WHAT ASSIGNMENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES DO YOU HAVE AS A CYBER OFFICER?
There are many opportunities for Cyber officers in the Army. For me, software developer and development team lead are two of the most likely.
WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING OR INTERESTING PART OF BEING A COMMISSIONED CYBER OFFICER?
To me the most exciting part of being a commissioned cyber officer is being able to do what I am already passionate about in defense of this nation.
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE, WHAT TECHNOLOGIES AND SKILLSETS DO YOU PREDICT THE ARMY SHOULD BE LOOKING TO ACQUIRE AND DEVELOP?
Moving forward in Cyber, I believe the Army should focus on technologies used to secure the tactical edge and build skills used to operate in modern cloud-based computing environments.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOLDIERS OR CIVILIANS WHO WISH TO SOMEDAY BE DIRECT COMMISSIONED IN THE ARMY?
There are only two things necessary to direct commission as a Cyber officer; the army will teach you the rest. The first is a desire to serve which will give you the motivation and resiliency to get through the process. The second is a technical skillset to fill a critical gap in the force. These gaps are shrinking and changing as the Army improves its training, but there will always be skills in the private sector that the Army is interested in acquiring through this program.
WHAT'S NEXT IN YOUR ARMY CAREER? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST AS A CYBER-OFFICER?
Now that I am finished with BOLC, the next step is to get started at my new unit and start contributing to the fight. The thing I look forward to most is making an impact on the nation's defense through work in the Army's Cyber force.