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US Military Should Hire Cyber Mercenaries, Cadet Says

Scott Seidenberger, an undergraduate at Cornell University and an Air Force ROTC cadet, in a recent TEDx talk raised some provocative ideas for the U.S. military's cyberwarrior force.

For example, the college junior -- who's studying the impact that technology has had on the military's culture, organization and people -- asked whether it's worth divorcing the mission of cybersecurity entirely from the armed forces and giving it to private-sector hackers or cyber mercenaries of sorts.

"Let's embrace for a second the idea that maybe the cyber mission isn't one for the military at all," he said. "Maybe the kinetic DNA of the military isn't suited for the cyber domain. Maybe what we need is to rely more on private citizens, companies and contractors in a civilian-lead, non-uniform enterprise."

As the military increasingly turns to drones and automation, millennials are increasingly leaving government, Seidenberger said.

For example, just a quarter of the federal cybersecurity workforce is under the age of 30 and more than half are over the age of 50, he said. What's more, new officers and enlisted personnel in military cyber schools are already getting trained by private-sector instructors, he said.

"Our nation's admirals and generations are extremely brilliant people and they're some of the finest leaders that our nation has been able to produce," he said. "But they haven't benefit from growing up in a digital age."

To underscore the point, Seidenberger included in his presentation a quote from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, who has said of the cybersecurity challenge, "We have a lot of people in this discussion who don't really know what they're talking about. I know, because they are all like me."

Given that the Pentagon plans to spend $5.5 billion in the current fiscal year on cybersecurity operations and created an entire command, U.S. Cyber Command, devoted to the mission, Seidenberger's ideas are worth considering.

Check out his full talk below:

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