The Coast Guard is introducing a new cyber rating enabling enlisted members to pursue a career in Cyberspace Operations.
The new cyber mission specialist (CMS) rating is expected to be available in the 2023 assignment year.
The rating offers additional incentive for people to join the Coast Guard and brings the service in line with other military branches, all of which offer cyber career tracks for noncommissioned personnel.
Qualifying for the new rating is expected to be competitive, says Master Chief Petty Officer Jon Weppler, enlisted workforce manager for Coast Guard Cyber. At launch, 260 enlisted billets are slated for conversion to the CMS rating and 20 warrant officer billets to the cyber specialty. For a sense of scale, the Coast Guard currently has around 4,300 billets for boatswain’s mates.
“I would expect to see high demand,” Weppler said, noting that many of the positions to be converted are currently special assignments. Last year, 93 people applied for 42 of these jobs, “judging from the phone calls I’m getting, it seems many people want to stay in cyber.
Expansion of the cyber workforce to include cyber mission specialists are vital to the success of the service’s cyber strategy. Defense of Coast Guard networks and Protection of the Maritime Transportation System include performing defensive operations as a member of a cyber protection team or doing offensive cyber effects operations to test defenses.
Enlisted members from any rating will be able to apply to be a CMS, provided they are an E-4 and advancement eligible, slightly higher than the E-3 threshold for many other ratings. New recruits and less senior members interested in pursuing the cyber rating will be encouraged to build expertise and credentials to make them attractive applicants in the future.
“This is recognition that cyber is an operational domain and deserves a dedicated workforce,” Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Vanderslice training management team lead in the cyberspace planning and resources division. “A lot of people are going to join the Coast Guard because they’ll now have this dedicated path to pursue.”
While the program is still working out the details and requirements for the new rating, some are already set: all applicants will have to go through a screening process and must be eligible for a top-secret security clearance with a favorable counter intel scope polygraph.
The Office of Cyberspace Forces is also developing a guide to the selection process to let members know what to focus on in an application. While there is no requirement that an applicant be currently working in a technical position, the Coast Guard is looking for people with demonstrated interest in cyber and recognized leadership and drive.