Cyberspace career fields, training paths, badge proposed

  • Published
  • By Karen Petitt
  • Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) Public Affairs
Air Force officials recently proposed a plan to develop its enlisted and officer corps into Airmen who specialize in establishing, controlling and fighting in the cyberspace domain. 

That's according to Maj. Gen. William T. Lord, the Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) commander who referenced AFCYBER's force development intent during a recent cyberspace symposium in Marlborough, Mass.

"We've created a roadmap that outlines our efforts to establish cyberspace operators, specialists, analysts and developers who grow from a basic understanding of cyberspace doctrine to experts in their respective fields," he said. "Along with outlining specific career fields that can be used throughout our Air Force, we also looked at how we can deliberately manage their career to grow cyberspace warriors, leaders and future visionaries."

Cyber warriors will be identified as operators -- officer and enlisted members who plan, direct and execute offensive and defensive actions; specialists -- enlisted communications and information personnel who specialize in technical aspects of cyberspace; analysts -- officer and enlisted intelligence personnel with the technical foundations to support cyberspace operations; and developers -- primarily officers and enlisted with advanced skills for designing and modifying software and hardware packages.

This roadmap provides details about cyberspace operators and specialists. Particulars for analysts and developers are expected to be outlined later this year. These changes will affect approximately 30,000 active-duty members and about 2,000 Guard and Reserve forces currently performing cyber-related duties.

Maj. Timothy Franz, the AFCYBER (Provisional) chief of force development, said numerous teams will be meeting throughout the coming year to fine tune the changes.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us still, but we know the direction we're headed," Major Franz said. "We're now working on an implementation plan that will define specific goals, objectives and tasks to make this vision a reality. Some of these tasks can be worked quickly and others will take a few more years."

Along with identifying career specialties, the roadmap also outlines education and training paths. Professional development for the approximately 30,000 civilians in cyberspace is still under review, but they will also be fully integrated into the implementation plan.

Cyberspace specialists
Members in the communications and information mission areas will transition to 15 new 1B Air Force specialty codes. This will require the phase out of the current 2E (communications-electronics), 3A (information management) and 3C (communications and computer systems) specialties.

All cyber enlisted members will start off with a 1B0 or 1B1 specialists skill set. As they enter their retraining window, a select few will have the opportunity to retrain into a 1B4 operator specialty. The 1B4s will possess new skills being developed to work on-net (1B4X1) and electronic (1B4X2) warfare missions. As cyberspace operators, they will attend additional cyber warfare training.

Cyberspace operators
Most officers will have technical, and possibly graduate-level technical degrees, but all will develop a breadth of knowledge and experience within cyberspace. The paths for officers will allow them to be technically proficient in many areas of cyberspace and, as they progress, develop a breadth of leadership skills required for senior leadership.

Current plans call for two new officer AFSCs: a 17D cyberspace warfare operator, which will require the phase out of the 33S (communications-computer) specialty; and a 12W electronic warfare officer, which will be a subset of today's 12X combat systems officer community.

Both the 17D and 12W AFSCs will be further developed under the oversight of a Cyberspace General Officer Steering Group with recommendations expected for later this year.

Cyberspace training
Cyberspace specific content is being added to the enlisted 2E, 3A and 3C basic technical (pipeline) courses. However, plans call for these courses to transition to the new AFSCs by 2010. This will be the first group affected by the implementation plan.

Along with new pipeline schools, more advanced training will be available through cyberspace 100/200/300/400 series of supplemental courses intended to focus on professional development throughout their careers. These courses will impart cyber-related knowledge, skills, and ability appropriate to an individuals' grade and experience, as well as provide exposure to aspects of the cyber warfare mission area which they may not have had experience. Cyber warriors will also attend formal training units that will be specific to their duty locations and missions.

In addition, there'll be "gap training" to transition existing communications and information personnel to their new cyberspace specialties. The gap training will be provided through a blended approach of computer-based training, targeted career development courses and mobile education teams as necessary. Specifics of courses and training content are yet determined.

Cyberspace badge
During the symposium, General Lord also revealed the proposed badge that will identify future cyber operators. The badge features lightning bolts to signify the cyberspace domain, center bolts taken from the navigator badge and the Air Force seal to signify cyberspace's worldwide power and reach and its common lineage and history of electronic warfare officers, and orbits to signify cyberspace's space-related mission elements. And, like other specialty badges, it will identify skill (certification) levels. Final approval and specifics of the wear criteria is under review at the Air staff.

The way ahead 
"Simply inserting new material about cyberspace power into current specialties will not suffice," General Lord said. "We must develop future leaders who understand how cyberspace operations integrate with conventional kinetic operations at all levels of command, with our sister services and throughout the Defense Department. Our teams of experts will spend the next few years further refining and developing what we've outlined in this roadmap. We all have a role in defending our cyberspace capabilities, but now we're on our way to having a specific cadre of professionals who'll help work to manage, deconflict, direct and integrate cyberspace operations." 

1B enlisted specialists/operators
The enlisted force provides the technical depth needed to execute tactical missions. While the proposals call for the phase out of the 2E, 3A, 3C AFSCs, a review is also being done of the 1A3 (airborne mission systems) as cyberspace may use portions of this skill set as well.

For now, the proposed new specialties are:

1B0X1 -- knowledge operations: They will possess application and presentation networking skills necessary for content management, retrieval and presentation.

1B0X2 -- cyber systems operations: They will focus on servers, data storage, software applications, system technologies, protocols, standards and client interfaces.

1B0X3 -- cyber surety: They use information technology resources to monitor and evaluate policy and procedures to protect clients, networks, data and voice systems and databases from unauthorized activity.

1B0X4 -- computer programmer: They will develop and standardize tools and interfaces as well as possess the ability to transform raw data into actionable command and control information. They will also translate operational offensive and defensive requirements into program code to ensure freedom of maneuver in the cyberspace domain.

1B1X1 -- client systems specialist: They will integrate and sustain common client-level voice, data and video devices with a primary focus on end user devices.

1B1X2 -- cyber transport systems specialist: They will focus on sustainment of the network and telecommunication infrastructure, distribution media, cryptographic equipment, etc.

1B1X3 -- radio and frequency transmissions systems specialists: They understand space, radio and satellite systems technologies and configurations required to integrate and sustain airborne and terrestrial multimode, multiband radio frequency systems to include wireless voice, data and video systems.

1B1X4 -- cyber spectrum specialists: They engineer, nominate and assign frequencies to support communications requirements and coordinate frequency needs with federal, military and civil authorities.

1B1X5 -- radar systems specialists: They understand radar technology to support airfield, weather and early warning radar system missions. They will perform search, intercept, identification and location of sources radiating electromagnetic energy for purposes of threat recognition.

1B1X6 -- airfield systems specialist: They will understand meteorological, navigational and air traffic control radio, console and recorder technologies and will meet all national airspace system certification requirements.

1B1X7 -- cable and antenna systems specialist: They will link the base campus voice, data and video networks and focus primarily on external communications cables and radio frequency antenna systems.

1B1X8 -- control systems specialist: They monitor and control emergency and distribution management systems, and supervisory control and data acquisition systems.

1B1X9 -- mission systems specialist: They will perform cyberspace-related duties on airborne platforms and will primarily operate, maintain, repair and test airborne communications, sensor, computer and electronic systems.

1B4X1 -- on-net operations: These are network warfare operators who provide net attack, defense and exploit capabilities to disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy information or the delivery systems themselves. (Operators will retrain at the three- to five-year point.)

1B4X2 -- electronic warfare operations: They will integrate and sustain operations across the electromagnetic spectrum and will perform search, intercept, ID and location of sources for threat recognition and implement electronic protect and attack measures. (Operators will retrain at the three- to five-year point.)

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