Senate Panel Probes Readiness of DoD’s Cyber Force

Senate Panel Probes Readiness of DoD’s Cyber Force

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s cybersecurity and personnel subcommittees held a joint hearing today to examine the cyber operational readiness of the Department of Defense and heard from leaders of both the military and civilian side of the DoD cyber force about the mounting challenges they face.

Despite a nearly universal consensus between Congress and witnesses over cyber workforce recruitment difficulties, the senators generally favored aspirational lines of questioning, seeking not to chide DoD on cyber workforce shortages, but instead inquiring proactively about efforts to address some of the shortfalls.

Following the hearing, the panel moved to a closed session to discuss sensitive and classified matters. Prior to doing so, the witnesses provided a glimpse into future investments in the Army’s cyber activities, as well as the expanding authorities of U.S. Cyber Command and the possibility of pooling DoD-wide cyber resources.

Cyber Workforce

“A great deal of the Department’s cyber readiness issues revolve around the shortage of skilled cyber-capable personnel,” said cybersecurity subcommittee Chairman Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D. Treading ground familiar to many in the Federal government, Rounds also expressed concerns over pay scale and organizational structure issues in government that may contribute to the problem.

“It’s difficult to match some of the compensation packages [available in the private sector],” said Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall, principal deputy cyber advisor at the Pentagon. “It’s also difficult to match the speed with which they hire and onboard and start individuals and clear them for some very sensitive projects.”

He flagged the government’s lengthy security clearance process as a major inhibitor but expressed that “we certainly have ways and means in front of us” to address that problem.

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