CAMP ROBINSON, Ark. - Cyber threats are in the news almost every day.
The recent cybersecurity incidents at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management are only the latest events.
The Army National Guard is preparing to play a key role in the defense of our nation in cyberspace. The Cyber Soldier of the future will have to be able to understand the dangers, detect threats and harden our networks in an environment that is constantly changing. The ARNG and ANG are in the process of forming Cyber Protection Teams (CPTs) and other Cyber elements.
One of the key elements of this new era is having Guard Soldiers and Airmen trained in the latest techniques and procedures, and the National Guard Professional Education Center (PEC) is leading that effort.
In coordination with the Cyber Center of Excellence (CCoE) at Fort Gordon, Georgia, the Professional Educational Center at Camp Robinson, Arkansas, is developing a new block of instruction referred to as Cyber Common Technical Core (CCTC).
Designed to meet equivalency of current National Security Agency (NSA), Intermediate Cyber Core (ICC) training, CCTC will enhance individual skills giving them the background they need to properly defend our nation's military communications networks.
The training is designed for enlisted Soldiers, warrant officers and commissioned officers. When trained, service members will be ready to serve in various Cyber work roles within the cyber protection teams and other formations the same way current Guard units do when needed. The long range goal for PEC is to open the CCTC to other DoD agencies, allowing all services to speak a common language and have similar skill sets.
The CCTC course is scheduled to be an 8-week course with four phases. The first phase will cover the Windows operating system with phase two covering the Linux operating system and the differences between the two. Phase three will cover networking, and the fourth phase provides training on security concepts. Phase four will culminate with several scenario based, real-world situations to test the student's fundamental understanding of the curriculum.
"The first iteration of the course will wrap up at the end of July. It is comprised of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in cyber security to include members of the 1636th ARNG CPT stationed at Laurel, Maryland, four active duty Army personnel, three members of the USAR and two active duty Navy personnel. This session is heavily engaged in developing the course and training materials, according to Lt. Col. Tony Caldwell, ARNG G3 ODI at the National Guard Bureau.
"The second iteration will have a small number of SMEs from the states that have been awarded the first M-Day CPTs and other DoD agencies. That group will meet at PEC to continue course development, including scenarios and testing material. This session's sole purpose is to take the product we have now and improve it to support the third session at Fort Gordon," Caldwell said. "The third iteration of CCTC will be conducted at the Army Cyber School at Fort Gordon in October of 2015. The focus of this session will be to train instructors, course developers, and course managers for both PEC and the Army Cyber School. The goal of that session is to train and develop the personnel critical to course approval by U.S. Army Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)."
"PEC is slated to host a fourth development session in January 2016. The intent of the Army Cyber School and ARNG for this session is to demonstrate to USCYBERCOM and TRADOC that the course is ready to be validated. Once CCTC is validated and approved by USCC and TRADOC it is the Army Cyber School's intent to support PEC as a satellite campus of the CCoE to teach approved Cyber Course," according to Caldwell.
To differentiate cyber personnel from other career fields, the Army has created a new Cyber Operations career field 17. The 17 CF will be low density; that is, rather small in physical size and very specialized with a requirement for both lengthy and continuous training in order to keep abreast of changing trends.
The initial members of these teams will primarily come from Soldiers who are Information Technology Specialists, career field (CF) 25, as well as from Military Intelligence CF 35, but both of those CFs will continue to operate in their own right. Other operational CFs (e.g. 11 and 13, to name a few and some functional areas) will also be leveraged in a limited capacity.
To qualify for the award of a 17 series, individuals will have to complete a rigorous and lengthy training pipeline that will include the Cyber Common Technical Core (CCTC) training that is under development in conjunction with the Army Cyber School at the Professional Education Center in Little Rock. What makes this training so unique is that it is the "tip of the spear" for the United States Army. No other military service has the exact same version of this course; it is being developed to meet National Security Agency (NSA) equivalency.