Can Cyber Geeks Make It Into The Marines and Skip Boot Camp?

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By Debbie Gregory.

The Marine Corps is having a hard time getting people with essential IT and information security skill sets as the services struggle to build a force of “cyber-warriors.” In an effort to circumvent this problem, these cyber specialists might be able to skip boot camp altogether.

The proposal, initially proposed last year by then-Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, is one of several ideas being considered to combat concerns about severe cyber warfare readiness.

Carter also suggested the military should consider modifying fitness standards, grooming regulations or rules that make past drug use disqualifying in an effort to make recruiting cyber talent easier.

Marine Corps force planners are discussing the option of “lateral entry” for people with the desired skill sets to join as uniformed Marines.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Robert B. Neller said that having a skilled cyber workforce within the service was critical. “If you don’t have those things, whatever formation you put on the battlefield is not going to be as survivable or combat effective without them.”

The government has tried a number of ways to develop a “cyber-skilled” workforce. Another option would be to treat Marine Forces Cyberspace Command like Marine Corps Special Operations Command, limiting entry to more experienced Marines. Some have even argued for a standalone cyber service, following the same model used to recruit musicians for the Marine Corps Band.

Considering the going pay rate in the civilian world for many information security jobs, the DOD will have to make a significant investment to attract the right people to uniformed service. With that said, offering the prestige of a Marine uniform may be a draw to some young people with high-level cyber skills.

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