Cyber Officer Rank Flexibility Timely in Response to Threats from Iran and Russian
The United States Navy announced the intention to bring cyber officers in at mid-grade officer levels to ensure that the branch recruits and retains the best cyber officers. The service secretaries can take advantage of new authorities recently granted by Congress that allow them to do so.
Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said that these officers need the flexibility to move between the Navy or Marine Corps and the private sector without hurting their chances of promotion to secure their interest in staying in the service.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has allowed for the easing of requirements, like moving officers out of the military if they did not receive a promotion within a certain timeframe, and allowing for officers to be promoted faster.
“You have to have an active offense to have a great defense,” Spencer said. “Cyber is not one or the other. It’s a continuum and it’s a process because, to stay current in defense, you have to know what’s going on in offense.”
He added that the changes could help recruit and retain officers in other important communities, such as medical personnel and pilots.
The need for improved cyberwar intel is critical at this juncture of the United States history. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said that there is “no question” that Russia is the “most aggressive foreign actor,” in its ongoing efforts to undermine American democracy.
On another front, the U.S. could also face cyberattacks from Iran in retaliation for the re-imposition of sanctions by President Trump, which the administration says was done to prevent its aggression, denying it the funds it needs to finance terrorism, its missile program and forces in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.
“Iran’s cyber activities against the world have been the most consequential, costly and aggressive in the history of the internet, more so than Russia,” said Norm Roule, former Iran manager for the office of the Director of National Intelligence. “The Iranians are destructive cyber operators.”
“While we have no specific threats, we have seen an increase in chatter related to Iranian threat activity over the past several weeks,” said Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future, a cyber threat intelligence company, which has predicted that the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement would provoke a cyber response from the Iranian government.
Moriuchi anticipated that businesses most at risk include banks and financial services, government departments, critical infrastructure providers, and oil and energy.