The United States Marines have always been a tough branch of service, proud of their lore and history and believing that no man or woman should be able to call themselves Marines without first earning the title at one of the two Marine Corps Recruit Depots (MCRD). But as the world moves into a new age where the cyber battlefields are just as important as the one’s fought with infantry and combat arms, the Department of Defense must look into new and innovative ways to attract the best and brightest minds in the Cyber Security world into the military, where often the pay and benefits are substantially less than they would receive in the civilian sector.
So why not just train the average Marine through an advanced Military Occupational Specialty school? According to some officials, it’s about ensuring that we are recruiting only the highest talent possible. Lt Gen Robert B. Brown, Commander of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Centre at Fort Leavenworth told the Telegraph:
In order to gain an intellectual advantage over adversaries in cyberspace, we will need to tap into a talent pool that may not fit the stereotypical soldier profile. Our goal is to recruit the best talent possible. For cyber security, this must include individuals who anticipate and adapt to the rapid pace of innovation in the cyber world and thrive in its inherent ambiguity. Many who have these skills are not natural candidates for a military career. They grew up on Google and wear ponytails. We need to look at ways to bring them into the Army without necessarily going through the same training procedures as our combat troops.
While many Marines are vehemently against allowing civilians a straight shot in, some think that there are other options to be tested as well. Travis Tauro, a Marine veteran and Cyber Security professional told American Military News that they could still bring them in as government contractors and save money at the same time.
“Money and rank aren’t going to be what attracts these guys,” Tauro said. “If it’s about the military saving a buck, bring them in as low-level government employees and pay for their certifications, which generally cost thousands of dollars. Knowing what I know now, that would be amazing. It’s not enough to have a degree, you need certifications and experience.”
Another Marine Corps cyber security official spoke anonymously to American Military News and said that getting the right guy is just a little tougher than the military thinks.
“The issue we have is getting guys to pass these certifications,” the anonymous Marine said. “They want to recruit those who already have them because they realize the high school educated 19-year-old who wanted to be MARSOC and got stuck with data doesn’t have the aptitude or care to pass these courses.”
Others refuse to believe that it could work at all.
“They will enter a culture they don’t know, understand or potentially appreciate,” Dakota Wood, a retired Marine Officer, said to reporters. “The Marines around them will likely be challenged to appreciate them as they would a fellow Marine.”
Maj. Gen. Lori Reynolds, the commander of Marine Forces Cyberspace Command, told Marine Corps Times that they’re “going to look for every opportunity that we can to get the right talent.”