My Coast Guard

New officer resource: Cyber officer career guide

By Shana Brouder, MyCG Writer

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As the world around us becomes more and more digitized, the need to defend these networks from attack is critical. Cyberspace is the latest frontier that Coast Guard men and women are protecting from malicious influence. This past summer, the Office of Cyberspace Forces (CG-791) released a new guide, the Cyber Officer Career Guide, to help junior officers map out their careers within this growing arena in the Coast Guard. 

“While cyber has grown as an operational domain, it is not an official rating and there has been little guidance on what a career in cyber looks like in the Coast Guard,” explained Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Vanderslice, workforce management team lead within the Office of Cyberspace Forces. “To be successful in cyberspace, we needed individuals with specialized skills who can thrive in this new specialized arena. This guide is aimed to help us do just that.” 

The Office of Cyberspace Forces and the Coast Guard Cyber Command (CG CYBER) developed this new guide to assist thousands of people working on cyberspace-related missions map out their careers. 

The guide is aimed at officers with less than 10 years of service who are looking to develop a cyberspace officer career. 

The guide maps out career progression within the elements that make up the Coast Guard cyberspace world of work: cyberspace information technology (IT), cybersecurity, cyberspace effects, cyberspace intelligence, cyberspace enablers, and cyber-maritime transportation system (MTS). Duties and responsibilities within the field include:

  • Cyberspace IT: Design, build, configure, operate, and maintain IT networks and capabilities.
  • Cybersecurity: Secure, defend, and preserve data, networks, net-centric capabilities, and other designated systems by ensuring appropriate security controls and measures are in place, and taking internal defense actions. 
  • Cyberspace Effects: Plan, support, and execute cyberspace capabilities where the primary purpose is to externally defend or conduct force projection in or through cyberspace.
  • Cyberspace Intelligence: Collect, process, analyze, and disseminate information from all sources of intelligence on foreign actor’s cyber programs, intentions, capabilities, etc. 
  • Cyberspace Enablers: Perform work roles to support or facilitate the functions of the above-mentioned roles. 
  • Cyber-MTS: Facilitate the protection of cyber components of the marine transportation system; respond, rectify, and restore the MTS after cyber incidents. 

While working in cyberspace may seem daunting, many working in cyber billets within the Coast Guard did not start out as cyber experts.  Lt. Kenneth Miltenberger works as Red Team, Blue Teamthe Blue Team Branch Chief. He was first stationed on a cutter in Hawaii after receiving his commission, and subsequently earned a master’s in electrical engineering. It was then that Miltenberger says his “cyber-ness” truly began. Now, Miltenberger is helping to develop the cyber strategic outlook, mentors junior officers, and oversees numerous cyber operations at any one time.

“While you don’t need a highly technical background to get started, having that background in cyber or technology accelerates your ability to contribute and, as you progress into higher ranks, helps you lead the team strategically,” said Miltenberger,

Blue Team Assessment Technical Lead Lt. j.g. Kaitlyn DeValk echoes Miltenberger’s sentiments. “You don’t need a technical background to come into the cyber field,” she said. “You just need to be willing to learn and have enough curiosity to immerse yourself in the work.”

Devalk did not plan to work in the cyber field when she initially arrived at the Coast Guard Academy. After joining the Academy Cyber Team, DeValk decided this was the domain where she wanted to serve. 

“I had so much fun doing it then, and I still do,” said DeValk. “Every assessment we run is different, which keeps the work interesting. Every day presents a new challenge.”

In her first tour since graduation, Devalk’s day-to-day includes leading technical assessments of systems on various Coast Guard assets, including cutters and aircraft. 

DeValk has recently completed a comprehensive technical assessment of the Commandant’s plane to ensure its networks were not compromised. “We look at Coast Guard systems and at assets that hold Coast Guard data and ensure they are secure.”

For DeValk, the new Cyber Officer Career Guide is validating. It confirms that her desired career path within the Coast Guard is a priority and a place where she can grow and mature as a cyber professional. As someone who was lucky enough to come to CG CYBER on her first tour, DeValk also feels the guide is helpful for junior officers who were in other assignments but are looking to pivot. 

Interested in becoming a cyber officer or just need more information? Please read through the Cyber Officer Career Guide (CAC Access Required) or go to the CG-7911 portal page (CAC access required) for more information. 

Resources:

Officer:

  • OPM-4 Career Counseling portal site (CAC required) 
  • OPM-4 Counseling Requests email

Enlisted

  • EPM-2 Assignments Branch portal site (CAC required) - https://cg.portal.uscg.mil/units/psc/psc-epm/SitePages/EPM-2.aspx