Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced the inclusion of her Cyberspace Warriors Act in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Senate late last night. While the establishment of U.S. Cyber Command and cyber components in each of the four services has been crucial to the development of military cyber security, military leaders recognize that attracting, retaining and maintaining cyber warriors remains a challenge. Senator Gillibrand’s legislation would require the Secretary of Defense to conduct independent research of the Department’s requirements for cyber-security personnel recruitment, training and retention.
“Cyber warfare is an emerging threat that could affect every aspect of our national and economic security,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Terrorists could shut down electric grids in the middle of winter, zero-out bank accounts, or take down a stock exchange, causing an unimaginable amount of disruption and harm. Meanwhile, many of the best and brightest in information technology work in the private sector. We need to ensure that the U.S. military has the resources to recruit and retain these talented individuals to protect our national security.”
In today’s economic environment, many of the top computer network operations and information technology (CNO/IT) specialists are choosing to work in the private sector, attracted by financial incentives, entrepreneurship trainings and flexibility. It is therefore important that the Department of Defense develop new and innovative ways and receive the tools needed to recruit and retain cyber warriors. To date, the Air Force is leading the military in cyber warfare training having recently graduated its first class of “Cyberspace Operations Officers.”
The Cyberspace Warriors Act of 2011 would direct the Secretary of Defense to contract an independent organization to study the Department’s cyber security personnel requirements. The study would include a review of the number of personnel required for cyber operations; obstacles to recruitment and retention; potential avenues to address challenges in recruitment, training, and retention, including the reserves, individual ready reserves, civilian expeditionary workforce, corporate and university partnerships, ROTC and civilian auxiliaries.
Now that the Senate has approved the provision as part of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the bill will be reconciled with the House version, and pass the full Congress before being sent to the President for signature.