Marine Corps Selects Six Naval Academy Midshipmen as Part of its Inaugural Cyber Officer Cadre
POSTED ON: Thursday, December 19, 2019 9:32 AM by Center for Cyber Security Studies
On 21 November, the Naval Academy Class of 2020 received their warfare community selections, to include six highly qualified candidates who were designated as Marine Corps cyber warfare officers. For the first time ever, midshipmen were able to apply for Marine cyber and underwent a rigorous screening and selection process. One of the selectees, Midshipman Allison Annick, described her excitement, “This is an opportunity of a lifetime. It is a win-win to follow my passion for the Marine Corps and cyber warfare. The Naval Academy has prepared me for this next step. As a Cyber Operations major, I’ve had an incredible opportunity, to intern, ... train ..., and have an academic cross-disciplinary foundation to fight and win within cyberspace.”
Marine Corps recognizes increasing importance of cyber warfare
In March 2018, the Marine Corps took the next step in growing its cyber forces with the creation of the new officer military occupational specialty (MOS) focused on cyber operations. Senior leadership intends for the new cyber officers to lead within both the Marine Corps Cyberspace Command and across the wider Fleet Marine Forces. The officers will serve in a variety of roles that include supervision and direction of cyber-focused personnel and employment of cyberspace systems, tools, and payloads. The new officers will integrate the capabilities and effects of offensive and defensive cyberspace operations at the tactical level, supporting troops on the ground; the operational level, supporting Commanders at every echelon; and the strategic level, supporting policymakers across the Department of Defense.
Naval Academy poised for integral support to Marine Corps cyber officer cadre
From the outset, the Naval Academy has committed to maximizing support for this new initiative. The Senior Marine Corps Representative at the Academy, Colonel Jeffrey Smitherman, had a specific vision for the selection process, “The Marine Corps is looking for those officers who will be Marines first and apply our principles of warfighting in the cyber domain. The cyber domain is new and developing, and the Marine Corps takes a unique approach to it – that’s why selecting the best and most qualified midshipmen into this initial cadre of Cyberspace Officers is critical.”
The Naval Academy is continuing its commitment to providing a world-class cyber curriculum for the midshipmen. With the continued evolution of academic specialties in cyber operations, computer science, and computer engineering among other disciplines, the Academy is firmly committed to delivering technically astute junior officers. The Director of the Center for Cyber Security Studies, CAPT (ret.) Paul Tortora, summarized the particularly relevant position that the Naval Academy enjoys in supporting the Marine Corps cyber officer development, “This is a great decision by the Marine Corps, and the Naval Academy is well poised to deliver on this mission. Midshipmen, particularly within our
Cyber Operations major and related computing fields, have the education, background, talent, and experience to make an immediate impact in Marine Corps cyber forces.”
As with all Marine Corps officers, selected midshipmen will begin their Marine Corps career at The Basic School (TBS). The Basic School trains and educates all newly commissioned officers in the high standards of professional knowledge, esprit-de-corps, and leadership to prepare them for duty as company grade officers in the operating forces, with particular emphasis on the duties, responsibilities, and warfighting skills required of a rifle platoon commander. Upon successful completion of TBS, cyberspace officers will attend the Cyber Basic Officer Leaders Course in Fort Gordon, Ga. and be given the MOS of Cyberspace Officer upon completion.