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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Feb. 11, 2021

Coast Guard cyber forces ready themselves for new challenges: The new National Maritime Cybersecurity Plan

By Shana Brouder, MyCG Writer

Recently released by The White House and National Security Council, the National Maritime Cybersecurity Plan proposes distinct actions for the Coast Guard to take to strengthen cybersecurity of the Marine Transportation System (MTS) and protect our multi-trillion dollar maritime economy. 

Coast Guard Cyber Command and the Office of Cyberspace Forces are evolving the already sharp skills of the cyber workforce to meet new requirements of the NMCP. 

“Coast Guard Cyber Command is working closely with field commanders across the service to fully align our mission set with port-level operational requirements,” said Rear Adm. Michael Ryan of Coast Guard Cyber Command (CG CYBER). “Our number one priority is to elevate the prevention and response capabilities available to our sector commanders as they stand guard against threats that could disrupt our nation’s vital economic engine.”

Fundamental to this prevention and response capability are employees – both military and civilian – who serve in cyber billets. “The Coast Guard is extremely focused on attracting, developing, and retaining high-demand talent within our cyber workforce comprised of civilians, active duty officers and enlisted members,” explained Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Vanderslice of the office of cyberspace forces.

To attract and retain the best of the best, the Coast Guard has developed several incentive programs individualized to each community within the cyberspace workforces. “We provide access to a learning platform that helps members assess and develop their skills,” explained Vanderslice. “We’ll reimburse members for test attempts and annual maintenance fees associated with certification to ensure expensive tests aren’t a financial burden.” 

To remain a competitive employer, the Coast Guard offers up to $140,000 for officers performing cyber roles, $100,000 for enlisted members performing cyber roles, and 15% of a civilian employee’s base pay. 

Operational demands of maritime cybersecurity include working with both government and industry partners in three key areas: risks and standards, information and intelligence sharing, and creating a maritime cybersecurity workforce.

With these strategic efforts in place, Ryan is confident in the Coast Guard’s ability to meet the cyberspace challenges of tomorrow. 

“Our cyber protection team is an agile, capable, and experienced force that is ready to deploy around the globe to protect and defend the maritime transportation system and critical infrastructure aligned with DHS and Coast Guard operational objectives,” Ryan said. “We are fully prepared to deliver on the security tenets outlined in the National Maritime Cybersecurity Plan. We are doubling our force structure this fiscal year to ensure we have the capacity to meet the escalating operational demands in cyberspace.”

National Maritime Cybersecurity Plan