Talent, Experience Critical to Army Cyber

Talent, Experience Critical to Army Cyber

Lt. Gen. Maria Barrett speak at AUSA Hot Topic event
Photo by: AUSA/Luc Dunn

The Army’s capabilities in the cyber domain are maturing across the “entire information dimension,” and building that information dominance will require finding and retaining the right talent, the commanding general of Army Cyber Command said.

Lt. Gen. Maria Barrett, who described her organization as one that has gone from focusing on offensive and defensive cyber operations to one that has “really now matured that across the entire information dimension,” said continuing to build those capabilities “takes a village” of the right people.

“When I start thinking about capability and capacity, that capacity thing ends up being the people, and as I tell people about how we think about talent management in Army cyber, there is no single silver bullet for how you do talent management. It’s a cradle-to-grave endeavor,” she said June 14 during opening remarks at an Army Cyber Hot Topic forum hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army.

When it comes to the cyber domain, she said, military and civilian experience is everything. That means creating an environment where that experience can flourish and grow with the right mix of enablers.

“I say what we do here takes a village, it really does,” Barrett said, listing people such as strategists, targeteers, data scientists, data managers and the engineers who run the big data platforms that “enable those experienced cyber operators, the ones that defend the weapons platform that they conduct their offensive operations from.”

“The civilians on some of our cyber mission force teams are some of the most valuable and experienced people that we have on our teams, bar none, and experience matters in this domain,” Barrett said, pointing out that their success is enabled by the technical experience soldiers bring to operations that are 365 days a year.

To enable decision and information dominance on the battlefield, particularly as technologies such as artificial intelligence continue to emerge, the Army will have to continually assess and adapt to the types of skills that will be needed in a cyber workforce, Barrett said.

“The talent management side of the house is about how to identify people with the aptitude and the desire to serve, because that race for talent is very real,” she said. “We're not going to compete dollar for dollar, right? So, how do we tap into that and retain our very best?”