Leadership

Service academies ramp up cyber training

Naval Academy from the air

U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md. (EPA photo)

The Army, Navy and Air Force academies are accelerating cyber training for aspiring commanders as they make their way through the service academies.

Training, coursework and exercises all are being ramped up at institutions including the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy and the Air Force Academy, where classes in IT and cybersecurity increasingly are becoming mandatory, the AP reported.

The latest news represents an escalation in the emphasis on cyber education and training, which has grown markedly in recent years – and even in the past 18 months.

The Naval Academy is increasing its number of required classes; this year the school for the first time offered a major in cyber operations. A majority of Army cadets West Point take at least two technology courses, with more available. The Air Force Academy has offered computer science-related majors since 2004, and about 25 cadets will graduate this year with a computer science-cyber warfare degree. In addition, freshman computer classes are being reworked to include an emphasis on cyber.

The accelerated training and education are a welcome sign of progress for Defense Department officials, many of whom have repeatedly discussed a shortage in cyber professionals. Some Pentagon leaders also have left the door open to even further expansion of cyber training in DOD's educational institutions.

"As we grow capacity, we are building cyber mission teams now, with the majority supporting the combatant commands and the remainder going to [U.S. Cyber Command] to support national missions," Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of CyberCom and National Security Agency director, said in a Senate testimony last month. "We want to increase the education of our future leaders by fully integrating cyber in our existing war college curricula. This will further the assimilation of cyber into the operational arena for every domain. Ultimately we could see a war college for cyber to further the professional military education of future leaders in this domain."

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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