Marines Create New Cyberwarfare Career Field

FILE -- U.S. Marines assigned to the Cyber Security Technician course, Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School, work on a assignment at Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms, Calif., March 15, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Jose Villalobosrocha)
FILE -- U.S. Marines assigned to the Cyber Security Technician course, Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School, work on a assignment at Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms, Calif., March 15, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Jose Villalobosrocha)

After more than a year of discussion and speculation, it's official: the Marines have a brand-new set of military occupational specialties for cyberwarfare Marines.

The service announced the creation of the 17XX MOS community Monday, calling it part of a larger effort to establish cyber dominance on the battlefields of the future. The field will include seven new military occupational specialties, according to a Marine Corps administrative message released today. That range of MOSs creates positions for enlisted Marines, officers, and warrant officers, ensuring that troops can spend an entire career in the specialty.

Among the newly created jobs are two officer MOSs, cyberspace officer and cyberspace warfare development officer; two warrant officer positions, offensive cyberspace weapons officer and defensive cyberspace weapons officer; and three enlisted jobs, cyberspace effects operator, cyberspace defensive operator, and cyberspace operations chief.

"The Cyberspace Occupational Field provides the Marine Corps with a professionalized, highly skilled workforce that can effectively employ cyberspace defenses, capabilities, and effects across the Marine Air Ground Task Force and support joint requirements," officials with Headquarters Marine Corps said in a news release. "It supports the maturation of the Marine Corps' cyberspace workforce through the establishment of specific career paths, standardized training continuum, and mechanisms to retain trained and qualified Marines within the cyberspace community."

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told Military.com in 2017 that he was considering creating a cyber MOS in hopes of retaining Marines in the field who were highly trained and much in demand.

"There's no cyber MOS," he said at the time. "How am I going to keep them? We spent a lot of money training these Marines."

Neller has repeatedly emphasized the service's need to increase capacity in career fields including cyber and electronic warfare, saying he would be willing to scale back some infantry elements in order to grow these specialized communities.

During a recent trip to the Middle East, Neller told deployed Marines he'd offer a reenlistment bonus to anyone who had a background in hacking.

He also said during the trip that he was working to step up Marine Corps recruiting efforts for cyber jobs and to keep Marines in the cyber community for a full career if they met qualifications and completed training.

"I think it's going to be, MarForCyber is going to be like going to [U.S. Special Operations Command]," he said at the time. "Once you're in, you never leave; that's your field."

According to the message released today, the Marine Corps will assign cyberspace planners and integrators throughout the operational forces to leverage the cyber capabilities to the benefit of commanders.

Cyberspace operators will be dispatched to elements of the newly created [Marine Expeditionary Force] Information Group to support major commands including special purpose Marine air-ground task forces and Marine Expeditionary Units, the message states.

The Marine Corps plans to publish additional guidance instructing Marines on how to make a lateral move into the new 17XX job field and how the new changes will be implemented.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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