Earlier this week, the US Department Of Defense made the type of announcement that is becoming increasingly rare during this current era of lean budgets: a massive expansion to one part of it’s workforce. More specifically, as reported in the Washington Post, the Pentagon has approved a fivefold expansion to the DoD’s Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), taking the unit from it’s current 900 troops and civilians to around 4,900 over the next few years.
The announcement came as welcome news to cities like San Antonio, home of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, where the Air Force’s Cyber Command is located. According to one San Antonio newspaper, the Air Force has already announced plans to add one thousand jobs to the base as part of the overall expansion of USCYBERCOM. Of the new positions, a reported 70 to 80 percent would be civilian.
USCYBERCOM’s mission is to take the lead for “planning, coordinating, integrating, synchronizing, and directing activities to operate and defend the Department of Defense information networks” in addition to conducting “full-spectrum military cyberspace operations […] in order to ensure U.S. and allied freedom of action in cyberspace, while denying the same to our adversaries.” General Keith B. Alexander, who is also the head of the National Security Agency, leads the command. The joint appointment is not as strange as it appears; there is significant and growing overlap between the missions of both the NSA and USCYBERCOM.
According to the Washington Post, the planned expansion calls for the establishment of three types of units inside USCYBERCOM. First, “national mission forces” charged with protecting the IT systems used by sensitive points of the US’s infrastructure such as power grids and aircraft radar systems. Second, “combat mission forces” designed to be an offensive cyberforce for the US military. Third, “cyber protection forces” with the task of guarding the Department of Defense’s own IT networks.
For cleared job seekers this means one thing: for the next few years, the greenest pasture in the job market will be in departments and defense contractors working on cybersecurity issues and technology. So if you have those skills and experience currently, now is a great time to look for a better job. If you don’t, now is the time to start acquiring them.
Mike Jones is a researcher, writer, and analyst on national and international security. He lives in the DC area.